In our solar system, Jupiter is the largest planet by far. Jupiter has twice the mass of Saturn and 300 times the mass of the Earth. As big as Jupiter is, scientists have now discovered a distant planet that is even larger. The distant planet is called Kepler-88 d and it is three times the mass of Jupiter.
The discovery of the planet was based on six years of data recorded at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The team confirmed that Kepler-88 d orbits its star every four years. The planet has an elliptical orbit and is the most massive planet in its system.
The Kepler-88 system is already the focus of study for two other planets that have been discovered there called Kepler-88 b and c. Those planets were famous for an odd dynamic called mean motion resonance. Planet b is smaller than Neptune and orbits the star in only 11 days. That is half the 22-day orbital period of planet C, which is a Jupiter-mass planet.
An interesting phenomenon at play in the system has to do with drastic changes in the orbital timing of the inner planet. Those changes are called transit timing variations and the precise times when Kepler-88 b crosses between the star and the telescope can be up to half a day early or late.
The discovery of the new planet in the system adds another degree of understanding of why the transit of the inner planets varies so widely. The extremely massive Kepler-88 d planet is presumably more influential in the history of its system than Kepler-88 c, which is the size of Jupiter. In our solar system, Jupiter was influential in the development of other planets, including Earth.