Nasa’s Kepler Detects The Presence of Planets Orbiting Two Stars

Kepler-16b around the star every 229 days, almost the same as the 225-day orbit of Venus, but the system is located outside of the habitable zone for a second star is cooler than our sun.

Kepler-16b around the star every 229 days, almost the same as the 225-day orbit of Venus, but the system is located outside of the habitable zone for a second star is cooler than our sun.

The existence of the world with a double sun, as depicted in the movie Star Wars is more than 30 years ago, is now a scientific fact. NASA’s Kepler mission for the first time to detect the presence of a planet orbiting two stars – within 200 light-years from Earth.

Unlike Tatooine in Star Wars, the planet is cooler, gaseous and allegedly did not sustain life, but these findings show the diversity of planets in our galaxy.

Previous research has indicated the existence of circumbinary planets – planets orbiting two stars – but has not been clearly confirmed. Kepler detects a planet, known as the Kepler-16b, by observing the data trajectory, where the brightness of the star dims as the planet passed in front of him.

Where Sunset Twice: NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered a world where two sunset on the horizon, not just one. (Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech)

“This discovery confirms a new class of planetary systems that could harbor life,” says Kepler’s chief investigator, William Borucki, “Given that most stars in our galaxy is part of a binary system, this means an opportunity for life to be much broader than if planets form only around single stars. This discovery confirms a theory that has been held by the scientists for decades, but not proven until now. “

A research team led by Laurance Doyle of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, using data from the Kepler space telescope, which measures the brightness of over 150,000 stars, to find the trajectory of the planet. Kepler is NASA’s first mission capable of finding Earth-sized planets in or near the “habitable zone”, the region in a planetary system where liquid water could exist on the surface of the orbiting planet.

The scientists detect the presence of a new planet in the Kepler-16 system, a pair of stars orbiting each other and cover each other from our perspective here on Earth. When the smaller star partially blocking the larger star, the primary eclipse occurs, while the secondary eclipse occurs when the smaller star is fully blocked by the larger star.

The astronomers further observed that the system dims the brightness of the star even though it was not blocking each other, indicate the existence of a third body. Additional dimming in brightness, which is called the tertiary and quaternary eclipse, appearing at regular time intervals, suggesting that both stars are in different positions in their orbits every time it passed the third body. This shows that the third body is rounded, not just one, but two stars at once, in a wide circumbinary orbit.

Gravitational pull on the two stars, as measured by changes in their time of eclipse, is a good indicator for the third body mass. There was little detectable gravitational pull, which can only be caused by a small mass. The findings are described in a paper published in the journal Science, 16 September.

“Most of what we know about the size of the two stars were derived from eclipsing binary systems, and some of what we know about the size of the planet comes from the track,” said Doyle, who is also the author of the paper. “Kepler-16 combines the best of both worlds, with the eclipse track stars and planets in one system.”

This discovery confirms that the Kepler-16b is a cold world that is not friendly, measuring about the size of Saturn and is expected to consist of half rock and half gas. Both the parent star is smaller than our sun. One was only 69 percent of the mass of the sun and the other only 20 percent.

Kepler-16b around the star every 229 days, almost the same as the 225-day orbit of Venus, but the system is located outside of the habitable zone for a second star is cooler than our sun.

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