This was made possible by an international team of astronomers who discovered the TOI-1338 system, which consists of two twin stars and the exoplanet TOI-1338b orbiting them. The system is located about 1,320 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Painter.
This system is only the second planetary system known to science in which one planet orbits the twin stars at once. Before that, only the fictional planet Tatooine, shown in the Star Wars franchise, was known. It had two suns.
The study was published in the journal Nature Astronomy. Astronomers used the capabilities of the European Southern Observatory, including the Very Large Telescope located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, to confirm the planet’s existence and make observations that would allow them to calculate its characteristics.
To do this, scientists tried to determine the mass of TOI-1338b, but were unable to achieve it. Instead, however, they discovered another planet in this system. The newly discovered world is called BEBOP-1c, after the name of the research project. The planet turns out to be a gas giant, about 65 times the mass of Earth and about five times the mass of Jupiter. It orbits its stars at a distance of about 0.79 astronomical units. It takes about 215 days to complete a revolution around its two suns.
By comparison, the aforementioned planet TOI-1338b is about 0.46 astronomical units from its stars, and it takes about 95 days to orbit around them. This suggested that its mass is no more than 22 times the mass of the Earth.
It is important to note that the discovery of this system helps scientists better understand the formation of planets in binary star systems. As astronomers note, such systems are quite complex and can influence the formation of planets.
“This TOI-1338 system demonstrates that planets can form in binary star systems despite their complexity,” said Andrew Lagergren, an astronomer at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
The TOI-1338 study also helps scientists better understand how the transit photometry method, which is used to detect exoplanets, works. This method involves astronomers measuring changes in a star’s brightness that can indicate the presence of a planet passing in front of it. In the case of TOI-1338, this method was particularly difficult because of the binary stellar system, but scientists were able to pull it off.
“TOI-1338 is an example of how the transit photometry method can be used to detect planets in binary star systems,” Lagergren says.
Thus, the discovery of the binary star system TOI-1338 with the exoplanet TOI-1338b and the gas giant BEBOP-1c was a big step in the study of planetary systems and their formation processes. This allows scientists to better understand the nature of the universe and its possibilities.