Planets Found Orbiting Twin Stars

One planet called Kepler 16 was discovered some time ago but two new planets called Kepler 34 and Kepler 35 have just been found. Each of these planets revolve around their own double Suns.

An Exoplanet around a Binary Star

An Exoplanet around a Binary Star

These discoveries imply that planets revolving around binary stars (Suns that exist as a pair) are common throughout the galaxy. This is because double stars are very common in the universe.

The planets are only 5000 light years from Earth in the Cygnus constellation! They were identified as binary stars by measuring the light emitted from the Suns.

Mostly binary stars stay together for life (a bit like humans). If a third star comes close to the binary pair it may break the bond between the two. This makes our solar system a little bit unusual, it is still possible though that our Sun has an undiscovered companion.

Binary Stars Imaged by Hubble

Binary Stars Imaged by Hubble

During a sunset on a binary star’s planet one will descend first followed by a brief twilight period and then the second sun will set and night will then begin to fall. The discovery of these planets gives us the opportunity to study solar systems that are very different from our own one.

Binary Star Sunset

Binary Star Sunset

These discoveries point out once again that we shouldn’t assume that everything is the same as our own solar system and that in fact variety is the name of the game in the universe it seems.

 

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