Researchers Have Discovered Luke Skywalker’s Home Planet… Kinda
Maybe Luke Skywalker and his home planet, Tatooine does exist!?
Well, not technically, but an international team of astronomers have identified the second multi-planet circumbinary system which closely resembles the Star Wars’ characters home.
Unlike planets in our Solar System, those in circumbinary systems revolve around two stars instead of one – and this discovery is just the second of 12 circumbinary systems which has more than one planet.
The new planet is called BEBOP-1c, after the project that discovered, has an orbital period 215 days, and mass 65 times that of Earth.
Using data from NASA’s TESS space telescope which searches for planets using the transit method, a circumbinary planet named TOI-1338b was found in the same system in 2020 as it passed in front of the larger of the two stars several times.
The team tried to measure the mass of the planet found by TESS but instead found the second planet and were able to measure its mass.
The discovery was led by University of Birmingham researchers, and is detailed in a study published today in Nature Astronomy. Dr Rosemary Mardling, from the Monash University School of Physics and Astronomy, was a co-author of the study.
“With an orbital period around 6.5 times that of the binary, BEBOP-1c is almost as close as it can be to the two stars – any closer and it would be kicked out of the system by the binary’s strong gravitational field,” Dr Mardling said.
“And with a period only twice that of BEBOP-1c, TOI-1338b is also perilously close to being thrown out of the nest. This tells us much about the conditions in which such planets form.”
While current methods have allowed the research team to measure the mass of BEBOP-1c, it will now try to measure its size using the transit method.
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