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Stellar Spin-Orbit Misalignment in a Multiplanet System

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Science  18 Oct 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6156, pp. 331-334
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242066

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Misaligned Planets

Stars with multiple coplanar planets have not been seen to show misalignments between the equatorial plane of the star and the orbital plane of the planets—a diagnostic of the dynamical history of planetary systems. Huber et al. (p. 331) analyzed the Kepler 56 planetary system, which contains a giant-sized and an intermediate-sized planet. The planets have orbits that are close to coplanar, but the planetary orbits are misaligned with the stellar equator. A third companion in a wide orbit, which could be another star or a planet, could explain the misaligned configuration.

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