Do Trojan exoplanets exist?

Co-orbiting worlds, also known as Trojans, have not been found yet outside the solar system. That's a strange thing, a new study suggests, given we see them constantly closer to home.

Our solar system is full of Trojans; the asteroids orbit the sun along the same path as a larger planet (like Jupiter) about 60 degrees ahead of and behind the planet.

"

But it might be that tidal forces alter the orbits of larger worlds, like an exoplanet.

While exoplanets with Trojan orbits may form, the study led by the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute suggests that the larger worlds with short-period orbits get thrown out of their path due to gravitational forces from the nearby star. 

The study has implications for our current catalog of 5,000 exoplanets, which mostly include those worlds that are close to their parent stars because they are easier to detect,

While the tidal forces may eject Trojans before we can observe them, there might still be some that are in younger systems and able to be observed. There also might be more insight on how Trojans behave from a NASA mission in flight.

Earth-sized planet would make its orbit become unstable. Oscillations in the small planet's orbit, the release stated, would "change from oval-shaped to banana-shaped and ultimately break out of the shared orbit, colliding with either the star or the giant planet."

Your Inbox

Fresh Content Straight To