COLUMBUS, Ohio – An international team of astronomers is the first to apply an old technique to discover a new type of planet that orbits two stars – what is known as a circumbinary planet.
As an added bonus, researchers found a second planet that is orbiting the same two stars, which is only the second confirmed multi-planet circumbinary system found to date. The study was published today in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Circumbinary planets were once relegated to only science fiction, but thanks to data collected from NASA’s Kepler mission, astronomers now know that multiple star systems are more common than previously thought. While many may not have planets of their own, roughly half the stars in the sky are made up of double, triple or quaternary formations. The other half are single stars like our sun, yet despite their quantity, scientists understand very little about the planets that form around multiple star systems.