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Hubble Discovers Twin Stars Orbited by 3 Jupiter-Like Planets

Sep 02, 2016 04:52 AM EDT
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The Hubble Space Telescope discovered an unusual planetary system. A binary star system composed of twin stars is being orbited by three giant exoplanets, which is rare and hasn't been observed before.

At the center of the mysterious star system is the twin stars HD 133131A, (orbited by two planets) and HD 133131B (orbited by a third planet). Although there are a lot of exoplanets in the universe, the emergence of Jupiter-like planets are considered important as they bear resemblance to the Solar System's biggest giant gas planet, Jupiter. Jupiter-like exoplanets may be able to provide information about the formation of the Solar System.

"We are trying to figure out if giant planets like Jupiter often have long and, or eccentric orbits," Johanna Teske lead author of the study, said in a press release. "If this is the case, it would be an important clue to figuring out the process by which our Solar System formed, and might help us understand where habitable planets are likely to be found, Teske added.

The new study was published in the Astronomical Journal and astronomers deem it significant to the probe on Jupiter-like exoplanets. By studying the mysterious star system, scientists will be able to observe Jupiter-like exoplanets in various sizes. One of the three is one and a half times bigger than Jupiter, the other two are a little over half of Jupiter's size, while the last one is almost two and a half times bigger than Jupiter.

The twin stars are relatively close to each other at only 360 astronomical units (AU). This is considered "extremely close" for the twin stars and the planets orbiting them. Because of this, the three Jupiter-like exoplanets are constantly being bombarded with "immense heat,", according to Sky News.

"The probability of finding a system with all these components was extremely small, so these results will serve as an important benchmark for understanding planet formation, especially in binary systems," Teske said in a statement.

Astronomers and scientist may gather a lot of information from the rarity of the planetary system discovered and the different sizes of the Jupiter-like exoplanets.

 

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