Suprising Solar System: NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered a distant solar system whose planets orbit at a steep angle to their star's equator. Image: NASA
Observations from NASA's Kepler spacecraft have uncovered a 'tilted' solar system, a finding that gives clues as to how some planets come to orbit their stars on paths that are misaligned with the stars' equators, astronomers report today in Science.
The planets of Earth's Solar System formed from a flat disc of gas and dust revolving around the Sun's equator, so they all started out in nearly the same plane. Earth’s orbit makes an angle of just 7.2 degrees with the plane of the Sun’s equator.
Five years ago, however, astronomers were shocked to find planets orbiting at steep angles to their stars’ equators. Some planets even went around their suns backwards — they orbit in the opposite direction to the star’s rotation. But no one had seen a misaligned multiplanetary solar system until now.
More - Link >>> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=kepler-spacecraft-finds-finds-first-known-tilted-solar-system&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20131018
Sources: Nature & Science Journals, Scientific American Magazine.
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