In thrilling news out of ANU Dr Daniel Bayliss has discovered a planet going the wrong way around its star. Which is a bit of a first.
Using one of the world’s largest telescopes in Chile, Daniel and his collaborators discovered that a distant planet WASP-17b is moving in the opposite direction to the spin of the star around which it orbits. The discovery throws traditional theories about how planets form around stars into doubt.
Planets form from the same disk of rotating material that gives birth to the star around which they move. So until now it has been assumed that any planets orbiting a star would be moving in the same direction as the star’s spin. This is certainly true in our own Solar System.
WASP-17b is quite different, Dr Bayliss says, and its backwards motion is somewhat of a mystery to scientists.