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The discovery of a planet that is far too massive for its sun is calling into question what was previously understood about the formation of planets and their solar systems, according to Penn State researchers.

Published in the journal Science and supported by several grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation‘s Division of Astronomical Sciences, researchers report the discovery of a planet more than 13 times as massive as Earth orbiting the “ultracool” star LHS 3154, which itself is nine times less massive than the sun. The mass ratio of the newly found planet with its host star is more than 100 times higher than that of Earth and the sun.

The finding reveals the most massive known planet in a close orbit around an ultracool dwarf star, the least massive and coldest stars in the universe. The discovery goes against what current theories would predict in planet formation around small stars and marks the first time a planet with such high mass has been spotted orbiting such a low-mass star.

“This discovery really drives home the point of just how little we know about the universe,” said Suvrath Mahadevan at Penn State, a co-author of the paper. “We wouldn’t expect a planet this heavy around such a low-mass star to exist.”

Stars are formed from large clouds of gas and dust. After the star is formed, the remaining

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