June 7, 2023


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3D planetary system.  Something like this has never happened before

3D planetary system. Something like this has never happened before

It is located about 20 light-years from Earth, a planet similar to Jupiter, and for the first time in history scientists were able to determine the three-dimensional structure of an orbit around one of the two stars there.

They wrote about the details of the case in the pages Astronomical Journal. The work of the study authors could provide valuable information about the planet formation process. The number of such objects known to science is constantly growing and has already exceeded 5000. However, only three discoveries were made by astrometry – in this case, this technique was also used. The very long radio telescope (VLBA) system played an important role.

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Importantly, the determination of the three-dimensional structure of the binary star system in which the planet is located cannot be done if a different method is used. In addition, since most stars are members of binary or multiple systems, understanding GJ 896AB and its allies will help us understand how planets form.

The planetary system is located around the double star GJ 896AB, about 20 light-years from Earth

The stars that make up this system are red dwarfs, or representatives of a very common type of star in the Milky Way. The largest, around which the planet orbits, has about 44% of the mass of the Sun. The smallest mass is about 17 percent of the mass of our star. As for the distance between these bodies, it is a distance similar to the distance of Neptune and the Sun. Both stars orbit each other once every 229 years.

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The astronomers used data from observations made in 1941-2017 with those in the VLBA from 2006-2011 and 2020. Thanks to the analyzes, they were able to reconstruct the orbital motions of the stars and their joint motion in space. The existence of a planet was demonstrated by the gentle vibration of the larger star. This body is twice the mass of Jupiter. It takes 284 days to fully turn around its host.

The planet’s orbit is tilted about 148 degrees to the orbit of both stars. It orbits the main star in the direction opposite to the direction of the other star with respect to the main star. As Gisela Ortiz-Lyon points out, this is the first time such a dynamic structure has been observed in a planet associated with a dense binary system, which may have formed in the same protoplanetary disk.

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Additional detailed studies of this and similar systems can help us gain important insight into how planets form in binary systems. There are alternative theories about the construction mechanism, and more data may indicate which is more likely. Current models indicate that such a large planet appears to be an unlikely companion to such a small star, so perhaps these models need to be adjusted. Joel Sanchez Bermudez, UNAM