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NASA found Exoplanet Orbits Two Stars like Jupiter and Faces Three Eclipses

nasa logo found exoplanet orbits two stars like jupiter faces three eclipses
NASA Office

NASA found Exoplanet Orbits Two Stars like Jupiter and Faces Three Eclipses

 This strange planet was found in 2003 by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). TESS and its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, have been utilized to assist scientists in discovering 14 of these planetary bodies to date.

An international science team led by Veselin B. Kostov, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has made a stunning discovery about an exoplanet. Interestingly, this gaseous planet named TIC 172900988 b is a circumbinary planet, meaning it orbits two stars and is as big as our solar system’s Jupiter. 

What's more intriguing is the fact that it completes one revolution around the stars in about 200 days and as a result, undergoes three eclipses.

Astronomers reported that this planet is a circumbinary as it orbits two stars, which in turn orbit each other. "But even among circumbinaries, this discovery stands out. Its year, once around the two stars, takes about 200 ­days. That would normally present a big challenge to astronomers trying to figure out the dynamics of this system", said an official statement by NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program. 

It revealed that rather than waiting for 200 days to confirm two planetary transits, the scientists only had 30 days to observe the circumbinary planetary system before TESS moved on to another patch of sky. 

As per the statement, astronomers were able to observe three eclipses in just 20 days owing to the configuration of these stars and their planet.

Surprisingly, high-resolution imaging in near-infrared light hinted that there also might be a third star encircling both stars and the newly discovered planet in a massive orbit that takes about 5,000 years for one revolution. Astronomers said that this star has a 10% lower mass than the other two stars and is only 30 times more massive than the giant planet.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is the successor to the extremely successful exoplanet hunter Kepler and has been in space since 2018. It has already discovered thousands of possible exoplanets on its primary mission, but each of them has yet to be confirmed. The instrument focuses on a region of the sky measuring 24 ° by 96 ° for at least 27 days and checks the stars in it for periodic darkenings that indicate exoplanets. 

For the two necessary transits, they have to orbit their star in a few days, so those found in this way make it much closer than Kepler’s finds. However, it is also possible that darkenings are found in two different observations of the same region. Of the 169 confirmed TESS finds, ten have orbits that are over 30 days, only TIC 172 900 988 b comes to over 100.

NASA: Words

Additionally, Haghighipour, who was a founding member of the TESS Circumbinary Planet Working Group, noted, “Our group was successful in demonstrating that despite TESS’s limited window of observation, it is still possible to detect circumbinary planets using the spacecraft.” The discovery of a new planet demonstrates our newly developed technique’s legitimacy, applicability, and success.

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