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NASA Confirms Unique Star System, Alien Planet Has Two Suns

First Posted: Sep 23, 2016 03:00 AM EDT
NASA recently confirms a unique star system where an exoplanet has two suns.
NASA recently confirms a unique star system where an exoplanet has two suns.
(European Southern Observatory / Flickr)

It's natural for several planets to revolve around one star. So, it's actually rare to have an alien planet orbiting more than one star. Now, astronomers have actually confirmed the said unique star system. They used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe a phenomenon called gravitational microlensing.

The said phenomenon is the bending of light caused by strong gravity around objects in space.

The Exoplanet And The Two Stars

The circumbinary planet is located 8,000 light years from Earth toward the center of the Milky Way. The exoplanet was first spotted in 2007. Astronomers first thought that it's orbiting only one star. However, the images showed a third object, according to Space.

They were not able to identify that other object, though. They revealed that those ground-based observations suggested two scenarios. David Bennett of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said that it could be a Saturn-mass planet orbiting a close binary star pair. Or it could be a Saturn-mass and an Earth-mass planet orbiting a single star.

The Use Of The Hubble Telescope

The researchers have gotten a better view by using the Hubble Space Telescope. It was able to take high-resolution images. Astronomers have found an answer for the binary-star system. They have discovered that the brightness meant two closely orbiting red dwarf stars.

A two-planet single-star model is not possible. Based on the researchers' data, the brightness is neither too bright nor too faint. This is what the authors stated in The Astronomical Journal. Bennett added that the two-stars and one-planet model is consistent with the data.

According to the Seeker, the two red dwarfs are orbiting one another only 7 million miles apart. The giant exoplanet orbits the stars at a distance of 300 million miles. It completes one orbit around the binary every seven years.

The Hubble has been really useful in this discovery. They plan on using it to search for more exoplanets.

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