Turning planetary theory upside down: Nine new exoplanets found, some with retrograde orbits

April 13, 2010

Astronomers have discovered nine new transiting exoplanets. Surprisingly, six out of a larger sample of 27 were found to be orbiting in the opposite direction to the rotation of their host star -- the exact reverse of what is seen in our own solar system.

Exoplanets, discovered by WASP together with ESO telescopes, that unexpectedly have been found to have retrograde orbits are shown here. In all cases the star is shown to scale, with its rotation axis pointing up and with realistic colours. The exoplanets are shown during the transit of their parent star, just before mid-transit. The last object at the lower right is for comparison and has a "normal" orbital direction. The size of each image is three solar diameters.