Kepler Spots Perfectly Aligned Alien Worlds
When NASA’s Kepler space telescope started finding planets at odd angles to their parent stars, scientists wondered if our solar system’s tidy geometry, with the planets neatly orbiting around the sun’s equator, was an exception to the rule.
That idea can be laid to rest thanks to an innovative use of the Kepler data which aligned three planets circling the sun-like star Kepler-30 with a giant spot on the star’s surface. The study showed the trio of planets orbiting within one degree, relative to each other and relative to the star’s equator. That finding is an indication that Kepler-30, like our own solar system, formed from a rotating disk of gas.