SPACE: An artist's render of a giant exoplanet, similar to HR 5183 b.
SPACE: An artist's render of a giant exoplanet, similar to HR 5183 b. NASA/JPL-Caltech

New planet discovery 'pushes the boundaries' of what we know

THE University of Southern Queensland was part of a team of international researchers behind the discovery of an exoplanet that "pushes the boundaries" of what we know about planets.

A new study, published by Caltech in the United States, which lists USQ as a co-author, revealed Planet HR 5183 b has three times the mass of Jupiter and travels on an incredibly long, egg-shaped path around its host star.

USQ astrophysicist Professor Jonti Horner said the planet, which scientists have been observing for about 20 years, had an elongated eccentric orbit.

"It's a massive planet, moving in a peculiar orbit that we don't really see in our solar system," he said.

"It's moving in an orbit much more like a comet than a planet."

Professor Horner said this discovery could provide scientists with greater insight into how planets form and how they evolve over time.

NASA scientist to give talk at USQ: Associate Professor Stephen Kane from the University of California and NASA to give talk at USQ.
NASA scientist to give talk at USQ: Associate Professor Stephen Kane from the University of California and NASA to give talk at USQ.

"What (this planets orbit and size) suggests is that the planet either had a very chaotic or crazy history, or formed in different ways to the planets in our solar system," he said.

"It's a window into how other planetary systems form and evolve and shows there is many more varieties of planets out there than we can imagine."

Professor Horner said HR 5183 b was discovered using a radial velocity discovery technique. It is currently the longest observed planet using this technique.