Largest Solar System Discovered With Planet Taking 1 Million Earth Years to Orbit Its Star
A PLANET that was thought to be aimlessly wondering through space has been discovered to be part of an extremely large solar system.
Scientists had been studying a planet known as 2MASS J2126-8140 which they believed to be free-floating through the universe.
Upon closer inspection, they have revealed that it is actually orbiting a red dwarf star known as TYC 9486-927-1.
However, the distance between the planet and its star is a staggering 6.2billion miles – a little less than 7,000 times the distance between the Earth and our sun and easily making it the largest solar system to have been discovered by threefold.
It would take almost 1 million Earth years to complete a full orbit and takes light a month to reach it from the red dwarf star, compared to eight and a half minutes from the sun to Earth and five and a half hours from our sun to Pluto – the farthest out planet in our solar system.
The distant planet is three times bigger than the biggest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, and is around 100m light years from Earth.
Dr Simon Murphy, from The Australian National University, said: “We were very surprised to find such a low-mass object so far from its parent star.
“We can speculate the pair formed 10m to 45m years ago from a filament of gas that pushed them together in the same direction.
“They must not have lived their lives in a very dense environment. They are so tenuously bound together that any nearby star would have disrupted their orbit completely.”
Lead author Dr Niall Deacon of the University of Hertfordshire added: “This is the widest planet system found so far and both the members of it have been known for eight years.
“The planet is not quite as lonely as we first thought, but it’s certainly in a very long distance relationship.”
The findings were published in the Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society.