Taking a peak into the constellation Cygnus, NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered the first-ever transiting circumbinary system: multiple planets orbiting not one, but two suns.
While the system is located at a ridiculously far distance of 4,900 light-years from Earth, it proves the theory that more than one planet can form and survive in orbit around a binary star.
The transiting circumbinary system’s inner plant is referred to as Kepler-47b (creative, no?), and it’s been noted as achieving full orbit of both stars in less than 50 days. Due to its proximity to the stars, it’s believed to be a very hot planet, one in which the destruction of methane in its hot atmosphere might lead to a thick haze that blankets the planet. Also worth noting about Kepler-47b is the fact that at three times the radius of Earth, it’s actually the smallest known transiting circumbinary planet. That’s because the system’s outerplanet, referred to as – get this – Kepler-47c (I’m noticing a pattern here) is slightly larger than Neptune. Kepler-47c orbits the two stars every 303 days, technically putting it in the “habitable zone”, the region in a planetary system where liquid might exist on the surface of planet.
Interested in learning more? Check out NASA’s video on the announcement.