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The Sciences

The Newly Discovered Planet That Orbits Backwards!

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumAugust 25, 2009 7:15 AM

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Cool news from space I've been meaning to post... WASP-17, a newly discovered planet about 1,000 light-years away, orbits in the reverse direction as the star it revolves around! This is BIG news in science because every other world we've observed does the opposite. Most likely, a near collision with another planet early on led to its strange orbit. The discovery was made by graduate students David Anderson at Keele University and Amaury Triaud of the Geneva Observatory with the UK's Wide Area Search for Planets (WASP) project. WASP-17 is also estimated to be two times the size--but half the mass--of Jupiter meaning this becomes the largest known planet in the universe.

wasp17.jpg
An artist's impression of a transiting exoplanet. Credit:NASA/Hubble

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