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New Wobbly Planet Discovered By NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope

Update Date: Feb 05, 2014 09:20 AM EST
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A new and unusual planet spinning wildly on its own axis has been discovered by NASA's space telescope Kepler. 

The planet being called Kepler-413b orbits a pair of stars every 66 days resulting in quick unpredictable changes in seasons. The orbit around the read and orange dwarf is titled to 2.5 degree. 

The tilt of Kepler-413b spin axis can vary till 30 degree over 11 years, causing erratic seasonal changes; on the other hand Earth's tilt is 23.5 degree and completes one round every 26,000 years and has not changed the tilt of its spin axis, reported Science World Report. 

The surprising element was the planet's movement on the human timescale. 

The planet - Kepler 413-b - is situated 2,300 light years away in the constellation Cygnus and is a super Neptune. The gas planet weighs 65 times that of the Earth. So far the observations are suggesting the orbit of the planet appears to by constantly moving up and down. 

"Looking at the Kepler data over the course of 1,500 days, we saw three transits in the first 180 days -- one transit every 66 days -- then we had 800 days with no transits at all. After that, we saw five more transits in a row," Veselin Kostov, the principal investigator on the observation, said in a statement.

Astronomers believed that the next transit would be visible from Earth will only happen after 2020. The reason they stated was that the orbit moved up and down hence making the planet wobble to a significant extent.  

"Presumably there are planets out there like this one that we're not seeing because we're in the unfavorable period," added Peter McCullough, a team member with the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University in the press release. "And that's one of the things that Veselin is researching: Is there a silent majority of things that we're not seeing?"

The finding was published in The Astrophysical Journal. 

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