Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Planet with three suns challenges astronomers

Filed under
Sci/Tech

In a scenario out of "Star Wars," astronomers have detected a planet outside our solar system with not one, but three suns, a finding that challenges astronomers' theories of planetary formation.

The planet, a gas giant slightly larger than Jupiter, orbits the main star of a triple-star system known as HD 188753 in the constellation Cygnus ("The Swan").

The stellar trio and its planet are about 149 light-years from Earth and about as close to each other as our sun is to Saturn, U.S. scientists reported Thursday in the current edition of the journal Nature.

A light-year is about 6 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year.

If you stood on the planet's surface, you would see three suns in sky, although its orbit centers around the main yellow star among the trio. The larger of the other two suns would be orange and the smaller would be red, astronomers at California Institute of Technology said in a statement.

An artists' rendering of the planet and three stars, as seen from a hypothetical moon, is available at here.

The new finding could upset existing theories that planets usually form out of gas and dust circling a single star, and could lead scientists to look in new places for planets.

"The implication is that there are more planets out there than we thought," the commentary said.

Caltech astronomer Maciej Konacki, who wrote the research article, refers to the new type of planets as "Tatooine planets," because of the similarity to Luke Skywalker's view of his home planet by the same name, with its multiple suns, in the original "Star Wars" film.

The fact that a planet can even exist in a multiple-star system is amazing in itself, according to Konacki. Binary and multiple stars are quite common in the solar neighborhood, and in fact outnumber single stars by some 20 percent.

But so far, most extrasolar planets -- those discovered outside our planetary system -- have been detected by watching for a characteristic wobble in the stars their orbit, reflecting the gravitation pull the planets exert on their suns.

This method is less effective for binary and multiple star systems, and existing theories said planets were unlikely to form in this kind of environment.

Konacki found a new way to identify planets by measuring velocities of all bodies in a binary or multiple star system.

Source.

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

Leftovers: Gaming

Leftovers: KDE Software

  • Wayland & Other Tasks Being Worked On For KDE Plasma 5.4
    Now that KDE Plasma 5.3 was released this week, KDE developers are starting to plan out and work on the new material intended for KDE Plasma 5.4.
  • Interview with Wolthera
    My name is Wolthera, I am 25, studied Game Design and currently studying Humanities, because I want to become a better game designer, and I hope to make games in the future as a job. I also draw comics, though nothing has been published yet. [...] After I played a lot with MyPaint, I heard from people that Krita 2.4 was the shit. When I went to the website at the time (which is the one before the one before the current) it just looked alien and strange, and worse: there was no Windows version, so I couldn’t even try it out. So I spent a few more years having fun with MyPaint alone, but eventually I got tired of its brush engine and wanted to try something more rough. When I checked Krita again, it had two things: a new, considerably more coherent website (the one before this one) and a Windows build. Around that time it was still super unstable and it didn’t work with my tablet. But MyPaint also had tablet problems, so I had no qualms about dual booting to Linux and trying it out there.
  • GSoC with KDE
    So, my project is titled: Better Tooling for Baloo. Let me begin by explaining what Baloo is. According to its wiki page it is "Baloo is a metadata and search framework by KDE." What exactly does it mean? Baloo is responsible for providing full text search capabilities to KDE applications. It doesn't end there it also provides searching on basis of metadata of various types of files. To acomplish this it indexes file contents and metadata using various plugins ,called extractors, to handle different types of files. It then exposes the data it has indexed with the help of various API's. So thats a very high level view of how it works. Now, my project, as the title states will provide better tools for Baloo. These tools will mainly be: