There are millions of planets in the galaxy
There may be millions of planets in our galaxy orbiting two stars-Space-Time-2020.
The work was recently published online in the journal Nature and was presented by Dr. William Welsh of San Diego State University at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas, on behalf of the Kepler science group.
The two new planets, named Kepler-34b and Kepler-35b, are gaseous planets the size of Saturn.
Kepler-34 b orbits its two Sun-like stars every 289 days, and the stars themselves rotate and eclipse each other every 28 days. Eclipses allow you to very accurately determine the size of the stars. Kepler-35 b orbits a pair of smaller stars (80 and 89 percent of the Sun’s mass) every 131 days, and the stars rotate and eclipse each other every 21 days. Both systems are located in the constellation Cygnus, with Kepler-34 at a distance of 4,900 light-years from Earth and Kepler-35 at a distance of 5,400 light-years, making them one of the most distant planets discovered.
Although long expected in both science and science fiction, the existence of a near-earth planet orbiting a pair of normal stars was not definitively established until the discovery of Kepler-16, announced by the Kepler Team last September. Like Kepler-16, these new planets also pass (eclipse) their host stars, making their existence unambiguous. When only Kepler-16b was known, many questions remained about the nature of near-Earth planets – what orbits, masses, radii, temperatures, etc. could they have? And most of all, was Kepler-16b a fluke? With the discovery of Kepler-34 b and 35 b, astronomers can now answer many of these questions and begin studying a whole new class of planets. “It was once thought that the environment around a pair of stars would be too chaotic for a near-earth planet to form, but now that we have confirmed the presence of three such planets, we know that it is possible, if not likely, that there are at least millions in the Galaxy,” said Welsh, who led a team of 46 researchers involved in this study.
Dr. Laurence Doyle of the SETI Institute, co-author of this paper and lead author of the Kepler-16 discovery, also stated, “With this paper, a new field of comparative circumbinary planetology is now being created.”
This discovery was made possible by three unique features of the Kepler Space Telescope: its ultra-high accuracy, its ability to simultaneously observe approximately 160,000 stars, and its long, almost continuous measurements of the brightness of stars. Additional work using ground-based telescopes has made it possible to measure the speed of the stars needed to confirm that these candidates are indeed planets.
“The search for new circular planets,” said co-author Dr. Joshua Carter of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics , ” and we hope to use Kepler for years to come.”
There are two suns on a near-earth planet, not just one. The distances between the planet and the stars are constantly changing due to their orbital motion, so the amount of sunlight the planet receives varies greatly.
“These planets can have a really crazy climate that no other type of planet could have,” said Dr. Jerome Orosh, a co-author from San Diego State University. “It would be like cycling through all four seasons many times a year with huge temperature changes.”
Welsh adds: “The impact of these climate fluctuations on the dynamics of the atmosphere and, ultimately, on the evolution of life on habitable near-Earth planets is a fascinating topic that we are just beginning to explore.”