Unusual planetary system TOI-2096 was discovered by astronomers from the University of Liège

The unusual planetary system TOI-2096 was discovered by astronomers at the University of Liège and CSIC using NASA’s TESS telescope. The system is 150 light-years from Earth and consists of two planets that are synchronously orbiting a cold star. Interestingly, these planets have sizes that are rare: the radius of TOI-2096 b closest to the star is 1.2 times the Earth’s radius and TOI-2096 c is 1.9 times the Earth’s radius and 55% larger than Neptune’s radius.

The planets are in resonant orbits, which causes a strong gravitational interaction between them. This interaction could lead to measurements of the planets’ masses using larger telescopes in the near future. Researchers also emphasize that these planets are critical to science, given their size. The formation of super-Earths and mini-neptunes remains a mystery at present, but TOI-2096 could be the system that helps understand how these planetary systems were formed.

Meanwhile, most of the transits were obtained with the TRAPPIST and SPECULOOS telescopes, led by the University of Liège.

“Through exhaustive analysis of the data, we found that the two planets are in resonant orbits,” says Mathilde Timmermans, a doctoral student at the Exotics Laboratory at Ullier and second author of the paper published in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

According to the scientists, TOI-2096 is the only system discovered to date in which the super-Earth and mini-neptune are at exactly the dimensions in which the models contradict each other. This makes this system particularly interesting to study.

As specialists note, the formation of super-Earths and mini-neptunes remains a mystery, despite the fact that there are several models that try to explain this phenomenon.

“TOI-2096 may be the key to understanding the formation of these planetary systems,” says Mathilde Timmermans.

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