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Third Planet Found Orbiting Binary Star System Kepler 47

Astronomers have found a third planet circling a pair of stars in the Kepler 47 system. An artist's illustration shows the three planets of the Kepler 47 system. The newly discovered Kepler 47d.NASA / JPL-Caltech / T. Pyle Kepler 47 just got bigger. Jerome Orosz (San Diego State University) and colleagues announced in the May issue of the Astronomical Journal that the "Tatooine" system, with two previously known planets orbiting two stars, has a third planet. The system is 3,340 light years away in the constellation Cygnus and, so far, it has the only one known to host.multiple planets. The binary pair consists of two main-sequence stars, one like our Sun and the other a red dwarf. The new planet, Kepler 47d, orbits between the two planets discovered earlier &#821 1; in fact, all three of them orbit the stars so closely, they could fit inside Earth's orbit around the Sun. Astronomers once thought that circumbinary planets – worlds orbiting a pair of stars – could not exist because of the dynamic interplay of dual stellar gravities would rule out stable planetary orbits. The discovery of Kepler 16b about 8 years ago dispelled that idea and some models of planetary behavior. Now, the confirmation of a multi-plane system could stretch those models even further Illustration of Kepler-47 planetary orbitsNASA / JPL Caltech / T. Pyle The existence The Kepler 47 system suggests that limitations of the circles of planetary circuits may be explained, perhaps because they are less likely to…

Astronomers have found a third planet circling a pair of stars in the Kepler 47 system.

An artist’s illustration shows the three planets of the Kepler 47 system. The newly discovered Kepler 47d.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / T. Pyle

Kepler 47 just got bigger. Jerome Orosz (San Diego State University) and colleagues announced in the May issue of the Astronomical Journal that the “Tatooine” system, with two previously known planets orbiting two stars, has a third planet. The system is 3,340 light years away in the constellation Cygnus and, so far, it has the only one known to host.multiple planets. The binary pair consists of two main-sequence stars, one like our Sun and the other a red dwarf. The new planet, Kepler 47d, orbits between the two planets discovered earlier &#821

1; in fact, all three of them orbit the stars so closely, they could fit inside Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

Astronomers once thought that circumbinary planets – worlds orbiting a pair of stars – could not exist because of the dynamic interplay of dual stellar gravities would rule out stable planetary orbits. The discovery of Kepler 16b about 8 years ago dispelled that idea and some models of planetary behavior. Now, the confirmation of a multi-plane system could stretch those models even further

Illustration of Kepler-47 planetary orbits
NASA / JPL Caltech / T. Pyle

The existence The Kepler 47 system suggests that limitations of the circles of planetary circuits may be explained, perhaps because they are less likely to be found around binaries. When planets form within the dust-and-gas disk surrounding young stars, their interactions with the disk cause them to migrate inward. The two stars competing with gravitational forces, but most of the smaller planets out of the system, explains coauthor Nader Haghighipour (University of Hawai’i). Giant planets, on the other hand, continuous migration inward and ultimately crash into the stars. Only intermediate-size planets remain

This diagram shows the orbits of the planets in Kepler 47. The dark green region represents a conservative estimate of the stars’ habitable zone; light green shows a more optimistic estimate. The red circle is the distance from the stars where planetary orbits remain stable despite the changing gravity field around the two stars.
Orosz et al. / Astronomical Journal 2019

Kepler-47 also demonstrates that circumbinary systems can fill up with planets on stable orbits. “I think that the big breakthrough of this,” says David Martin (University of Chicago), “is that what we call a packed system.” Martin, who was not involved in the Kepler-47 research, explains: “You couldn They put any other planets between these three and have the system survive. It’s important for understanding how the shape of the planet. ”

Transits Are Tricky

All three planets around Kepler 47 were discovered with NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Launched in 2009, Kepler searched for exoplanets via the transit method – sensing small changes in the brightness of starlight as planets passed in front of their suns.

Finding exoplanets by their transits can be hard. They have to be big enough to measurably dim the starlight as they pass. Then, the tilt of their orbital plane must be small enough relative to Earth to allow observers to see the periodic transits of the planets across the face of their stars. Orbital planes of circumbinary planets are further complicated by wobble; they vary slightly over time. “For every [circumbinary] you see, there are about eight or nine that you miss,” says study coauthor Bill Welsh (San Diego State University).

A Different Kind of Search

Data on the Kepler 47 system only extended through 2013, but NASA’s Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched in 2018 to pick up observations. TESS will be in position at Kepler 47 this summer, and researchers are excited to see new data on the system after a five-year gap. TESS is designed, however, to image larger swaths of sky than Kepler, looking for planets around the 200,000 closest stars. Its search will offer a new way to study circumbinary systems.

“TESS is going to look at hundreds of thousands of binary stars,” says Welsh. “Kepler got around 3,000 but TESS is going to add a few hundred thousand. The goal with TESS is to start statistics, to look at patterns and trends among these systems. ”

One of the goals is to understand how planets can form in the gravitationally unstable environment around binary stars, and the ongoing search is giving astronomers plenty of material to work with. “We’re not only finding planets around binaries, we’re finding them at a rate comparable to single stars,” notes Martin. “It seems that nature likes living on the edge.” Function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s) {if (f.fbq) return; n = f.fbq = function () {n.callMethod?
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