Scientists find confused planets that orbit backwards

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Scientist have discovered that some planets in remote star systems—called "exoplanets"—have crazy orbits: opposite the direction of the rotation of their suns, or at weird high angles.

That's the conclusion of research reported on

The discovery of nine new transiting exoplanets is announced today at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting. When these new results were combined with earlier observations of transiting exoplanets astronomers were surprised to find that six out of a larger sample of 27 were found to be orbiting in the opposite direction to the rotation of their host star—the exact reverse of what is seen in our own solar system. "This is a real bomb we are dropping into the field of exoplanets," says Amaury Triaud, a PhD student at the Geneva Observatory who, with Andrew Cameron and Didier Queloz, leads a major part of the observational campaign. ...

Up to now it was expected that exoplanets would all orbit in more or less the same plane, and that they would move along their orbits in the same direction as the star's rotation—as they do in our Solar System.

Click over to read more and watch an animated video depicting this crazy orbit.

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