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Last Updated : Apr 17, 2019 05:28 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Another planet found hiding in the Kepler 47 system

It is highly probable that there are many more planets lurking in the farther reaches of the Kepler 47 system, hiding from their stars.

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Image: NASA
Image: NASA

Another planet has been located by astronomers in Kepler 47, the only multi-planet system known to mankind to be orbiting a binary star.

Just like the planet Tatooine from Star Wars, two stars — one bright, one dim and red— rise over the horizon of the system. However, instead of being dry and sandy like Tatooine, the newly-discovered planet surface has been found to be gassy, reported Astronomy.com.

There are two more planets in the system, which are smaller. While one of them is closer to the double suns, the other one is more spaced out. Neither have a solid surface. So, if one visits them in a spaceship, all the planets will be easily visible because they’re knit together with their stars, into a space that is even smaller than the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

The discovery of the middle planet was published by the team of astronomers on Tuesday in the Astronomical Journal.

Interestingly, the similarities between Kepler 47 and our solar system are very few, which makes it even more intriguing for astronomers. The system was first spotted in 2012 using NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

The seasons and climate on all these planets are quite the puzzle too. Astronomers do not even know yet if the planets rotate on a tilt, like earth, which makes seasons change.

However, the scientists observed that though the amount of energy reaching each planet changes drastically, depending on their proximity to the stars, the outer planet stay by far in the habitable zone of the system.

Also, though Kepler 47c is believed to be a gaseous planet devoid of a solid surface, it expectedly has moons that may host life.

Making things even more complicated, scientists think that these planets may not have formed on their present orbits. Instead, they could have formed at a great distance from their stars and then gradually closed in. Additionally, the two stars in the system orbit each other every seven-and-a-half days.

It is highly probable that there are many more planets lurking in the farther reaches of the Kepler 47 system, hiding from their stars.
First Published on Apr 17, 2019 05:28 pm
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