Nation/World


Astronomers Find ‘Eccentric’ Planet

THURSDAY, OCT. 24, 1996

Planet-hunting astronomers Wednesday announced the discovery of a world so eccentric it gives the phrase “global climate change” a whole new dimension and shatters at least one theory about the nature of planets.

One and a half times the mass of Jupiter, the new planet is located in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan), about 85 light-years from Earth. While planets, in theory, travel in circles, this one follows an egg-shaped orbit - an “eccentric orbit” in astronomical terms. In fact its path is by far more out of round than that of any known planet or planet-like object, including Pluto, inside or outside of the solar system.

This means that every 2.2 years, it swings farther out than Mars, in terms of distance from the warmth of its star, and then sweeps in as close as Venus.


 
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