Astronomers have discovered a new planet that is eerily similar to Tatooine, the desert planet from the famous Star Wars movies. The planet has been named BEBOP-1 and here are all the details you need to know.
What is BEBOP-1c?
BEBOP-1c is named after their project that collected data known as Binaries escorted by orbiting planets. The BEBOP-1 project is also known as TOI-1338.
It is a gas giant planet that orbits two stars. It is the second planet to be discovered in the BEBOP-1 system, and it is the first planet to be discovered in a circumbinary system that is located in the habitable zone of its stars.
According to the news published in Nature Astronomy, “Circumbinary planets are planets that orbit both stars of a central binary. They were once confined to science fiction, but the discovery of Kepler-16 b paved the way for the detection of 14 transiting planets in 12 binary systems using the Kepler2 and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) missions.
The first circumbinary planet was discovered in 2019 by NASA’s TESS mission and is known as TOI-1338b.
BEBOP-1c is approximately 65 times the mass of Earth, has an orbital period of 215 days, and is the first circumbinary planet that has radio velocity and can be used to discover other exoplanets.
David Martin, co-author of the study and a NASA Sagan Fellow in astronomy at Ohio State University, said: “When a planet orbits two stars, it can be a little trickier to find because its two stars are also moving through space.”
“So the way we can detect exoplanets from these stars and the way they form are very different,” he added.
Currently only 12 binary systems are known to host circumbinary planets. The astronomers who made this new discovery are mentioned in the journal Nature Astronomy. They hope it marks progress in the way humans search for and detect exoplanets in these unique systems.
The vast majority of these exoplanets are discovered through the transit method. Nature Astronomy magazine states “To increase the number of known circumbinary planets and provide accurate masses for systems discovered with the transit method, we initiated a radial velocity observation study dedicated to the detection of circumbinary planets called binaries escorted by planets in orbit (BEBOP).”
“The systems tracked by BEBOP are on average four visual magnitudes brighter than the circumbinary systems identified by Kepler. Radial velocities are less restricted to the shorter, edge-on orbital periods found by the transit method,” he added.
Source: Nature Astronomy
It is the first planet discovered in a circumbinary system that is located in the habitable zone of its stars.
The discovery suggests that circumbinary planets may be more common than previously thought and that it may be possible to find more circumbinary planets by searching for them in the habitable zones of their stars.
Source: Nature Astronomy
In the image above, Nature magazine describes the colored areas as:
- “The conservative habitable zone is shown in the dark green region.
- The optimistic habitable zone is shown in the light green region.
- Binary stars are marked with the blue star symbol in the center.
- The region shaded in red denotes the region of instability surrounding the binary stars.”
To conclude, astronomers are excited about the possibility of life on BEBOP-1c. They plan to continue studying the planet in an effort to learn more about its atmosphere, surface, and potential for life. If life is found on BEBOP-1c, it would be a major discovery that would change our understanding of the universe.
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