New Delhi :
Astronomers have discovered the most eccentric planet, named HD 20782b, which is 117 light years away and what makes it eccentric is its orbit. The HD 20782b has the 'most eccentric orbit yet seen', i.e; it moves in a nearly flattened ellipse around its parent star. According to the research published February by a group of researchers from eight universities and five scientific institutions, they also detected a flash of starlight reflected from the planet’s atmosphere as it made its closest orbital approach to its sun.
The eccentricity of a planet’s orbit is measured on a scale of 0 to 1, with 0 representing a perfectly circular orbit. The eccentric planet’s discovery also offers a lucrative observing opportunity for studying planetary atmospheres of an eccentric-orbit planet to scientists.
If seen scientifically, planets in our solar system orbit the sun in an almost circular fashion, but there are some whose orbits are far more elliptical – or ‘eccentric’ – in nature, and this planet, HD 20782 has the most eccentric orbit ever seen.
“When we see a planet like this that is in an eccentric orbit, it can be really hard to try and explain how it got that way," said lead researcher Stephen Kane of San Francisco State University, in a press release.
HD 20782 has an orbital eccentricity of 0.96. So, by getting to study such planets, astronomers may also learn more about the structure and composition of a planetary atmosphere.