Planet discovered in GJ 896AB binary system

(ORDO NEWS) — Using the method of astrometry, scientists were able for the first time in history to determine the three-dimensional structure of the orbits of a binary star and a planet that revolves around one of these stars.

According to astronomers, this achievement can provide valuable new information about the process of planet formation. The scientists reported the discovery in the September 1 issue of The Astronomical Journal.

The binary system GJ 896AB lies about 20 light-years from Earth. The system consists of a pair of red dwarf stars with a mass of 44 and 17 percent of the mass of the Sun.

The stars are separated by a distance equal to the distance between the Sun and Neptune, the period of rotation of the binary system is 229 years. The planet revolves around the largest of the stars.

To study GJ 896AB, astronomers combined optical data from 1941 to 2017 with Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observations from 2006 to 2011.

They then made new VLBA observations in 2020. The resolution of the VLBA made it possible to make extremely accurate measurements of the position of the stars.

Detailed tracking of the larger star revealed a slight wobble, which was caused by the planet’s gravitational pull on the star.

Astronomers have calculated that the planet has about twice the mass of Jupiter and has an orbital period of 284 days.

The distance from the planet to the star is slightly less than the distance from Venus to the Sun. The planet’s orbit is tilted about 148 degrees relative to the orbits of the two stars.

This means that it is moving around its star in the opposite direction relative to the smaller star rotating further.

“Additional detailed studies of this and similar systems could help us gain insight into how planets form in binary systems,” said UNAM’s Joel Sanchez-Bermudez.

“In particular, current models show that the existence of such a large planet as a companion to such a small star is very unlikely, so perhaps these models need to be adjusted.”

According to astronomers, the astrometric method will become a valuable tool for studying more planetary systems.


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