March 5, 2024

Astronomers May Have Discovered the First Known Planet to Orbit 3 Stars

GW Orionis creative animation. Credit: ESO/Exeter/Kraus et al./ L. Calçada
Prospective discovery of a circumtriple world has ramifications for reinforcing our understanding of planet formation.
In a distant star system– a simple 1,300 light years away from Earth– UNLV associates and scientists may have determined the very first known world to orbit three stars.
Unlike our planetary system, which includes a solitary star, it is believed that half of all galaxy, like GW Ori where astronomers observed the novel phenomenon, include 2 or more stars that are gravitationally bound to each other.

UNLV astronomers assume the presence of a huge planet in the space, which would be the very first planet ever found to orbit three stars. Utilizing observations from the effective Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope, UNLV astronomers examined the three observed dust rings around the three stars, which are important to forming worlds.
After constructing a detailed model of GW Ori, they discovered that the more most likely, and interesting, explanation for the area in the disc is the existence of one or more huge worlds, Jupiter-like in nature. Gas giants, according to Jeremy Smallwood, lead author and a recent Ph.D. graduate in astronomy from UNLV, are usually the very first planets to form within a star system.

But no world orbiting three stars– a circumptriple orbit– has actually ever been discovered. Perhaps previously.
An image of GW Orionis, a triple star system with a mysterious space in its surrounding dust rings. UNLV astronomers hypothesize the existence of a massive world in the space, which would be the very first planet ever discovered to orbit three stars. Using observations from the effective Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope, UNLV astronomers evaluated the 3 observed dust rings around the three stars, which are vital to forming worlds.
But they found a substantial, yet confusing, gap in the circumtriple disc..
After constructing a comprehensive design of GW Ori, they found that the more most likely, and interesting, description for the space in the disc is the presence of one or more enormous planets, Jupiter-like in nature. Gas giants, according to Jeremy Smallwood, lead author and a current Ph.D. graduate in astronomy from UNLV, are typically the first planets to form within a star system.
The planet itself can not be seen, but the finding– highlighted in a September study in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society– suggests that this is the first circumtriple planet ever discovered. Additional observations from the ALMA telescope are expected in the coming months, which could offer direct evidence of the phenomenon.
” Its really amazing because it makes the theory of planet development truly robust,” Smallwood stated. “It could indicate that planet development is far more active than we believed, which is pretty cool.”.
Referral: “GW Ori: circumtriple rings and planets” by Jeremy L Smallwood, Rebecca Nealon, Cheng Chen, Rebecca G Martin, Jiaqing Bi, Ruobing Dong and Christophe Pinte, 17 September 2021, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.DOI: 10.1093/ mnras/stab2624.