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Circumtriple planet suspected: a planet orbiting 3 stars

1 Oct 2021, 11:55 UTC
Circumtriple planet suspected: a planet orbiting 3 stars
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This is a composite image from ALMA and the Very Large Telescope of the triple star system GW Orionis. GW Orionis’ protoplanetary disk is warped and sports a large gap. The instruments took these images on September 3, 2020. Scientists now say they think a circumtriple planet or planets lie within the gap. Image via ESO/ Exeter/ Kraus et al., ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).
GW Orionis, or GW Ori, is a triple star system located at the head of Orion the Hunter. A massive protoplanetary disk surrounds the triple star system. This disk is a dense region of gas and dust that’s left over from the formation of these young stars and has not yet been blown away by their stellar winds. The reason scientists call it a protoplanetary disk is because the leftover material could coalesce and form planets. GW Ori’s protoplanetary disk has a prominent gap within it, and scientists announced in September that they believe a planet exists within this gap. If confirmed, it would be the first circumtriple planet known, or a planet that orbits three stars.
The scientists published their study on September 17, 2021, in the peer-reviewed journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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