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Kepler discovers first multi-planet binary system
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NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered its first multiple-planet binary star system. The system, Kepler 47, is 4,900 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. While theorised, it has never been confirmed before that a planet could survive the tidal forces produced by the gravity of two stars in close proximity.

 

A comparison of the Kepler-47 system to our Solar System.
Credit: JPL/NASA

The inner planet, Kepler-47b, orbits the pair of stars in less than 50 days. While it cannot be directly viewed, it is thought to be a sweltering world, where the destruction of methane in its super-heated atmosphere might lead to a thick haze that could blanket the planet. At three times the radius of Earth, Kepler-47b is the smallest known transiting circumbinary planet.

The outer planet, Kepler-47c, orbits its host pair every 303 days, placing it in the so-called “habitable zone,” the region in a planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet. While not a world hospitable for life, Kepler-47c is thought to be a gaseous giant slightly larger than Neptune, where an atmosphere of thick bright water-vapor clouds might exist.

To search for transiting planets, the research team used data from the Kepler space telescope, which measures dips in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars. Additional ground-based spectroscopic observations using telescopes at the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin helped characterize the stellar properties. The findings are published in the journal Science (August 28th 2012).

Nasa Release

Phys.org

Sciencedaily #1

Sciencedaily #2

Space.com have a very nice infographic showing the planetary orbits here.

 

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AstroAggregator
My name's Chris Pounds. I started Astronomy Aggregator in 2012 as a hobby site for my interests in spaceflight and astronomy. I'm finishing up an MSc. in Aerospace Engineering. My undergraduate degree was in Mechanical Engineering with a final year dissertation focussed on performance characteristics of aerospike rocket nozzles.

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