Astronomers have spotted a binary star system, which has mysteriously skewed orbits.
Scientists explain that the orbits of most of the planets are circular; however, in the last two decades scientists have also found that some exoplanets can have skewed orbits as well. Scientists say that usually stars form in pairs.
According to astronomers, they have discovered two stars in the Taurus constellation, which will likely form into planets. The stars are around 450 light-years away from the Earth and are believed to be five million years old. There is a distance of about 36 million miles between the two stars, which equates to approximately 13 times more the distance as of the Sun from Neptune.
Scientists have previously believed that the second star's gravitational pull results in planets to have extremely tilted or elongated orbits, or both. Alan Boss, a planet formation theorist, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, says that the latest discovery reaffirms the theory, which is known as Kozai mechanism.
Astronomers were able to find the skewed orbits using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescopes, which is the largest and most-expensive ground-based telescope, in the Atacama Desert, Chile.
The researchers have dubbed the binary star system as HK Tauri and the two stars are dubbed Tauri A and Tauri B. ALMA has observed their protoplanetary disks, which revealed that HK Tauri B was dimmer and its protoplanetary disk was easy to view with ALMA. However, HK Tauri A was much brighter and its protoplanetary disk cannot be viewed easily. The scientists also suggest that at least one of the disks is misaligned.
"What was surprising to me was how clearly the result - misalignment of the disks - popped out of the data when we were first looking at it," says Eric Jensen, study author and an astronomer at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. "That's partly a testament to the high quality of the data from ALMA, but partly a result of just how misaligned the two disks are with each other."
The latest discovery will help scientists for future studies to observe and understand binary stars and their protoplanetary disks. Scientists will want to understand if misaligned disks are common in the binary star system or if HK Tauri is the odd one out.