Astronomers Discover Bizarre “Whiplash” Planet


Astronomers are in shock as they have recently discovered a foreign planet that is three times bigger than Jupiter. Planet HR 5183 b has quickly earned a notorious reputation because it has a strong, elliptical orbit — so strong that if it orbited in our solar system, it would completely shift the orbits of our outermost planets.

“A wacky object,” is how a California Institute of Technology graduate student Sarah Blunt described HR 5183 b. The wackiness could remind one of either an amusement park ride or a rocket ship where the object slows down and speeds up unpredictably. Since the exoplanet’s ellipse is much more elongated than other planets, scientists began to question the origin of its abnormal orbit. “It seems like every time we think we’ve found the weirdest solar system, something else totally strange is discovered,” Blunt stated in an email.

No one has formally viewed this exoplanet’s orbit; however, researchers have suggested a plausible theory for how the orbit developed. 

“Something must have interacted with the planet to pump up its eccentricity,” stated Blunt, theorizing that HR 5183 b was deflected by a neighboring exoplanet. 

University of Texas astronomer Brandon Bowler refers to this unusual discovery as “a stepping stone.” He believes that discovering different exoplanets will finally allow scientists to observe the true, complete depths of space. 

[Sources: NBCNews.com; Associated Press]

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