By using the Hubble Space Telescope alongside the Gemini Planet Imager, astronomers were able to witness that an exoplanet was voted off the nearby solar system by its star.
The exoplanet in question is named HD 106906b and is currently at a distance of 300 light years from our own planet. Its orbit is around a relatively young star, HD 106906, at a distance of 650 astronomical units, or AU (the distance from Earth to our Sun). This orbit is immense, 650 AU is roughly 16 times further than the distance between Pluto and the center of our solar system, the Sun.
The creation of a planetary system surrounding such a young star was considered to be similar to the process through which a regular star is formed, by condensing gases and debris into a single point. But due to the star found in its solar system, HD 106906, having an irregular comet belt, the exoplanet in question may have originally formed like any other planet, from the collision of debris inside the star’s comet belt. This is proven even further to the exoplanet having a ring around it made out of space dust and other particles of debris.
The planet in question may have had at some point a regular orbit around its star, but a massive phenomenon, which is currently unknown, that also created the irregularities in the comet belt around the astral body, pushed the planet towards the edge of the solar system.
The research of the solar system with HD 106906 at its core began in May this year in order to see exactly how the evolutionary process of a young solar system actually progresses. Our Sun also had a comet belt around it which eventually gave birth to the planets, but the process itself cannot be actually seen.
The lopsided belt around the star in question, the side facing the far exoplanet being the thinnest and most prolonged, further suggests that a gravitational phenomenon happened during the early years of the stars. Simply but, the planet was kicked into space with a tremendous force behind it, leaving ripples in the comet belt due to recoil. This is why the thickest part of the belt is the one completely opposite of the planet, on the other side of HD 106906.
By intensifying the research done on how exactly an exoplanet was voted off the nearby solar system by its star, astronomers and scientists will be able to understand the plethora of astral processes happening all around our solar system, even as we speak.