New Plant Confirmed To Have Double-Star System
A team led by astronomers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and San Diego State University have used NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to identify the new planet, Kepler-1647b, and even more remarkably, found that it orbits a double-star system.
This newly found planet is 3,700 light-years away and approximately 4.4 billion years old, roughly the same age as Earth, with their stars being similar to our sun, one slightly larger than our home star and the other slightly smaller.
The planet has a mass and radius nearly identical to that of Jupiter, making it the largest transiting circumbinary planet ever found.
“It’s a bit curious that this biggest planet took so long to confirm, since it is easier to find big planets than small ones,” said SDSU astronomer Jerome Orosz, a coauthor on the study, “But it is because its orbital period is so long.”
SDSU astronomer William Welsh, one of the paper’s coauthors, added “finding circumbinary planets is much harder than finding planets around single stars. The transits are not regularly spaced in time and they can vary in duration and even depth.”
The planet takes 1,107 days – just over three years – to orbit its host stars, the longest period of any confirmed transiting exoplanet found so far.
The planet is also much further away from its stars than any other circumbinary planet, breaking with the tendency for circumbinary planets to have close-in orbits, but instead, its orbit puts the planet within the so-called habitable zone–the range of distances from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.
“Habitability aside” said Walsh “Kepler-1647b is important because it is the tip of the iceberg of a theoretically predicted population of large, long-period circumbinary planets.”