Astronomers could have potentially found evidence of the first planet orbiting a triple star system, called GW Orionis. It’s located at the head of Orion the Hunter just 1,300 light years away, and consists of two stars in a spectroscopic binary system, while the third one star is further away from us and appears to be more red and eight times the distance from the others. In other words, two of these stars orbit each other and the third one orbits them both. Read more for two videos and additional information.
GW Orionis was detected using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array(ALMA) in Chile, and unlike our solar system, which boasts a solitary star, astronomers observed that this one consist of two or more stars that are gravitationally bound to each other. One oddity is a substantial, yet mysterious, gap in the circumtriple disc, most likely due to the presence of one or more massive planets, Jupiter-like in nature.
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Gas giants are usually the first planets to form within a star system. Terrestrial planets like Earth and Mars follow. It’s really exciting because it makes the theory of planet formation really robust. It could mean that planet formation is much more active than we thought, which is pretty cool,” said Jeremy Smallwood, lead author and a recent Ph.D. graduate in astronomy from UNLV.