An exoplanet known as HATS-14b is causing astronomers to discard their theories on how planets form.
An article in New Scientist gives some background facts for the dilemma:
“In our solar system, the planets all orbit the sun in the same plane, perpendicular to the axis around which the sun spins. But for half a decade, we’ve known that big planets close to other stars can have orbits that are tilted at all sorts of weird angles.”
Astronomers thought they knew a few plausible reasons for this.
But then came HATS-14b with its orbit “tilted a whopping 76 degrees from the plane in which its star spins.”
The planet is a hot Jupiter that circles a rather small star, so it “should have aligned with the spin of the host star,” as George Zhou at the Australian National University in Canberra and the lead author of a new paper puts it.