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Unusual Number of Giant Planets Found in Star Cluster Messier 67

Jun 20, 2016 10:54 PM EDT
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Three "hot Jupiters"exoplanets were found in the Messier 67 cluster in an unusual occurrence. Scientists were dumfounded to find three exoplanets to close to each other saying that these formations weren't detected before and now they form in unusually large numbers.
(Photo : Alfred Vidal-Madjar/ESA/NASA/Getty Images))

Hot Jupiters are the new exoplanets being observed by astronomers and scientists. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) recently discovered that there are far more "hot Jupiter" types of planets than expected in the cluster of stars called Messier 67.

The collection of data from different instruments and telescopes helped the scientists at ESO conclude that there was an unusually large number of hot Jupiters on Messier 67. The denser environment of the cluster might have caused more interactions between planets and nearby stars, thus more hot Jupiters managed to form.

ESO used data from the HARPS spectrograph and the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Messier 67 cluster has 88 stars and is believed to be as old as the Earth's Sun. The old star cluster of Messiah 67 is found in the Cancer constellation according to Space.Com.

"We want to use an open star cluster as a laboratory to explore the properties of exoplanets and theories of planet formation," Roberto Saglia, team lead of the study said in a statement published by Science Daily. "Here we have not only many stars possibly hosting planets, but also a dense environment, in which they must have formed," Saglia added.

The scientists use data to observe the "wobble" effect of hot Jupiters. The presence of the said effect confirms that the exoplanets exist, not one but three in one star cluster. The study that discovered three hot Jupiters in the Messier 67 is considered "striking" to scientist as it is unusual to find a large number of hot Jupiters near each other.

The discovery of three hot Jupiters in one cluster amazed the authors of the study.

"No hot Jupiters at all had been detected in open clusters until a few years ago. In three years the paradigm has shifted from a total absence of such planets - to an excess!" Luca Pasquini, co-author of the study said in an interview with Daily Galaxy.

The team believes that the discovery of an unusual number of exoplanets called hot Jupiters will not end here. As more data are gathered, there could be more bodies waiting to be discovered.


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