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SPACE: Alien World Saved From Exile

A distant alien world that was potentially on its way into exile in interstellar space was rescued by the gravitational pull of a passing pair of stars, a new study argues.

These findings support arguments that close stellar misses help sculpt planetary systems, the researchers said.

Although Earth and most of its sibling planets have relatively circular orbits around the sun’s equator, Pluto and many other dwarf planets have more elongated, tilted orbits. Previous research suggested these distorted features are potentially due to a close approach from another star during the solar system’s infancy whose gravitational pull hurled things helter-skelter.

Full story: Charles Q. Choi, Live Science

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