Astronomers have discovered an alien solar system whose planets are arranged much like those in our own solar system, a find that suggests most planetary systems start out looking the same, scientists say.
Researchers studying the star system Kepler-30, which is 10,000 light-years from Earth, found that its three known worlds all orbit in the same plane, lined up with the rotation of the star — just like the planets in our own solar system do. The result supports the leading theory of planet formation, which posits that planets take shape from a disk of dust and gas that spins around newborn stars.
"In agreement with the theory, we have found the star's spin to be aligned with the planets," said study co-author Dan Fabrycky, of the University of California, Santa Cruz. "So this result is profound because it is basic data testing the standard planet formation theory."
Interactions among planets can later throw such ordered arrangements out of whack, researchers added, creating the skewed orbits seen in many alien systems today.
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