Perched on the tip of Orion’s nose, there spins a solar system that could give Tatooine — Luke Skywalker’s twin-sunned homeworld — a run for its money.
Known as GW Orionis (or GW Ori) and located about 1,300 light-years from Earth, the system is a rare example of a triple-star solar system, with two suns orbiting one another at the center, and a third star swirling around its siblings from several hundred million miles away. Scientists previously identified the system by its three bright rings of planet-forming dust, nested inside one another like a massive orange bullseye in the sky.
Now, a closer analysis reveals that the rings may hold more than just dust; according to two recent studies, published today (Sept. 3) in the journal Science and May 21 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, there could be a young planet, or the makings of one, bulging up inside the rings and throwing off the whole system’s gravitational balance. The presence of such a planet would not only help explain why the system’s inner ring appears to be wobbling around wildly like a broken gyroscope — but, if confirmed, the distant world would also become the first known example of a single planet orbiting three suns at once, the researchers said.
1 thought on “SPACE: Behold The Rarest of Planets”
That’s fascinating… What a wonderful thing to discover!