Friday, October 1, 2021

Scientists discover planet with three suns in the constellation Orion!

 A survey published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society last week brings more evidence of an eccentric solar system perched on the nose of the constellation Orion, which has been studied for some years.

 Under this new approach, the star system could contain the rarest type of planet ever seen in the universe: a single world orbiting three suns simultaneously.

 The three dust rings of GW Orionis, a triple star solar system in the constellation Orion.  The unstable inner ring could contain a young planet.

 Known as GW Orionis (or GW Ori), this solar system is located about 1,300 light-years from Earth and is composed of three orange dust rings nested inside each other, whose image resembles a giant fly in the sky.  At the center of the fly live three stars - a pair locked in a closed binary orbit with one another, and a third one revolving widely around the other two.

 Triple star systems are rare in the cosmos, but GW Ori is considered even stranger the more astronomers observe it.

 Researchers used 3D simulations to understand the origin of this planet

 In an article published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters last year, researchers looked closely at the GW Ori with the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile, and found that the system's three dust rings are actually misaligned with each other. , with the innermost ring swinging wildly in its orbit.

 In the team's view, a young planet, or the formation of one, could be upsetting the gravitational balance of GW Ori's intricate triple-ring arrangement.  If detection is confirmed, it would be the first triple-sun planet (or “circumtriple” planet) in the known universe.

 In the study now, conducted by a team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA, new evidence for the existence of this rare planet has been discovered.  The authors performed 3D simulations to model how mysterious gaps in the star system's rings might have formed, based on observations of other dust rings (or “protoplanetary disks”) elsewhere in the universe.

 The team tested two hypotheses: either the break in the GW Ori rings occurred from the torque applied by the three rotating stars at the center of the system, or when a planet formed inside one of the rings.

 They concluded that there is not enough turbulence in the rings for the stellar torque theory to work.  Instead, models suggest that the presence of a huge Jupiter-sized planet – or perhaps several planets – is the most likely explanation for the rings' strange shape and behavior.

 If future observations of the system support this theory, GW Ori could be "the first evidence of a circumscribed planet opening a gap in real time," according to what lead author of the study, Jeremy Smallwood, stated in an interview with The New York Times.  "If confirmed, the mere existence of this world would prove that planets can form under a wider range of conditions than science imagined."

 

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