Saturday, September 14, 2013

Worlds with Two Stars: The Kepler-47 System

If you think it’s hard to be in a stable orbit around one star, think of how hard it must be to maintain an orbit around two. Binary star systems are the most common type of star system we have found. For quite some time, astronomers have known of exoplanets orbiting binary star systems (these planets are called cicumbinary planets). Recently however, in a binary star system 4,900 light-years from Earth, astronomers have discovered two planets in a stable orbit. This is exciting because it tells us that multiple planets can form and remain in a stable orbit around binary systems…ultimately opening the way for the possibility of the existence of more planets (and, potentially, habitable worlds – how would you like that sunrise?).

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