Planet Found that Orbits Its Star Backwards

Published Friday, August 14, 2009 3:40 PM

A new planet was discovered that orbits its star in the opposite direction of the star's rotation. Normally, as a star is spinning it will cause the nearby debris to start circling the star in the same direction and the debris can form planets. It is likely that this planet was orbiting the star in the expected direction, but a close call with another large body could have been the cause of its direction change. This planet, named WASP-17b, has other interesting properties. It orbits very close to its star, less than one-seventh the distance that is between our Sun and Mercery. It is also about twice the size of Jupiter, but only half its density (similar to a packing peanut).

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