Scientists are paying close attention to the HD 106906 system, a relatively distant and young system in which lies a young 13-million year-old star being orbited by an exoplanet thought to be only slightly younger than its host star.
Using the Gemini Planet Imager and the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have figured out that the system has an exoplanet that obits the young star as much as 60 or more billion miles from its host star, which is about 16 times the distance that Pluto is from our Sun.
Just to put this into perspective, Neptune, which is the furthest full-sized planet in our solar system, only gets about 2.795 billion miles way from the Sun at its furthest point while in orbit.
The exoplanet orbiting the star HD 106906 is so young that it still has a dust cloud surrounding it; much like huge rings. Scientists are studying it to learn more about younger solar systems, but are baffled by why the planet is so far away from its host star. It’s actually believed that the planet was once closer than it is now, and has slowly drifted away.
It’s believed that something must have forcefully knocked it further out of the system. Scientists have confirmed that there is a trail of comets between the star and the exoplanet that have lead scientists to believe that some sort of impact has knocked it off course.
The incredible distance from the star of course leaves some to wonder how in the world the exoplanet is still clinging on to the young star’s gravitational pull.
The age of the system will hopefully help provide astronomers with important data for how young solar systems form and help to better understand our own solar system and its formation as well.
Source: The Astrophysical Journal