CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA/WASHINGTON – Astronomers have discovered a planet unlike any other ever found, one that loops widely around one star that is locked in a gravitational embrace with two others in a triple-star system, creating a curious celestial ballet. The findings, published Thursday in the journal Science, challenge current notions about what makes a planetary system viable. With three stars in the system, the massive planet would experience triple sunrises and triple sunsets during one season and all daylight in another. Since the planet's orbit is very long, each season lasts for hundreds of years. "Depending on which season you were born in, you may never know what nighttime is like," lead researcher Kevin Wagner of the University of Arizona said.
Luke Skywalker's home planet, which orbits two suns, may have real-life counterparts. Astronomers today said they had found hints of a planetary system closely resembling that of Tatooine. The evidence came in the form of seemingly rocky debris orbiting two stars - a white dwarf and a brown dwarf - in a system called SDSS 1557 some 1,000 light years away. A research team led by University College London has found rocky debris orbiting a binary system 1000 light-years away, which they have compared to the Tatooine system from Star Wars (artist's impression) The SDSS 1557 system is made up of a white and brown dwarf star, which circle each other roughly every two hours. The white dwarf is the burn-out core of a star that was probably similar to the Sun, and the brown dwarf is around 60 times heavier than Jupiter.
A huge "monster" planet that's far too big for its sun could lead scientists to rethink their theories of astronomy. The planet, known as NGTS-1b, is the size of Jupiter. Scientists not only didn't predict that such a massive planet would be able to orbit such a small star, but it contradicts some of the predictions at the heart of their understanding of how planets form. The mysterious, challenging solar system is 600 light years from Earth and the ratio between the star and the planet is the most unusual ever discovered. Dr Daniel Bayliss, from the University of Warwick, who led the team of astronomers, said: "The discovery of NGTS-1b was a complete surprise to us.
Captivating images of planet-forming discs around young stars have been captured by astronomers - and they could hold clues to the origins of Earth-like worlds. An international team of astronomers used the Europe Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope in Chile to take 15 images of the inner rims of planetary discs. In the images astronomers found'bright spots', hinting at the processes that lead to the formation of planets - possibly through instabilities in the disc. The protoplanetary discs are formed in unison with the star they surround - dust grains in the disc merge together to eventually produce Earth-like planets. To capture the images, which show the details of creation in more detail than has been imaged before, they combined light from four telescopes.
Most objects in our solar system circle the sun in what's known as a prograde orbit, wherein their motion is counter-clockwise when seen from "above." All but a handful of the million or so known asteroids in our solar system exhibit prograde motion -- a direction inherited from the spinning disk of debris that birthed them roughly 4.6 billion years ago. Graham, Arizona, have now discovered an asteroid orbiting the "wrong" way -- exhibiting retrograde motion -- around the sun. Moreover, this asteroid, 2015 BZ509 ("Bee-Zed" for short), also shares Jupiter's orbital space, making it the only known object in the solar system to have a retrograde orbit and to share a planet's orbital space. The observations were detailed in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.