A new exoplanet orbiting between two stars have been discovered by a team of astronomers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and San Diego State University.
The unique factor about this particular discovered planet is that it is the largest planet in a double-star system discovered so far.
It is known to astronomers as Kepler-1647b; the exoplanet orbits in the “habitable-zone” of its star, where liquid water could exist on the surface – an important ingredient for life to form.
Nevertheless, Kepler-1647b’s size is similar to Jupiter, meaning it is a gas giant and unlikely to host life as we know it.
Apart from its size, the Tatooine-type system shares some similar features with our Earth-Sun system. At 4.4 billion years old, Kepler-1647b is about the same age of the Earth. Also, the two stars that the exoplanet orbits are similar to our sun, with one slightly larger and one slightly smaller than our home star.
The currently found planet is located about 3,700 light-years away from Earth and too dim to see in the night sky with your naked eye.
Due to the fact that it takes 3,700 years for light from the Kepler-1647b star system to reach the Earth, astronomers studying this system are seeing it as it existed 3,700 years ago.
Fortunately, the Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009, can detect planets around other stars using the transit method. With this strategy, astronomers look for dips in brightness from the host star as a planet transits in front of it in relation to the Earth.
© 2016, Ayandola Ayanleke. All rights reserved.