Monday, September 19, 2011

Two Sun Planet

As recently mentioned on this blog, its been a miserable summer sun-wise. Not so for a planet recently discovered by the Kepler spacecraft. Launched in March 2009, Kepler's aim is to find and analyse terrestrial and larger planets in or near the habitable zone of a wide variety of stars (1). And its come up with quite the find: a planet in orbit around two suns (2). Known as Kepler-16b, the Saturn sized planet describes a 229-day orbit around its two stars, which in turn eclipse each other. The stars are 20% and 69% the size of our own star, the sun, and have a 41 day orbit.

Kepler-16b (in blue) orbiting its two stars (orange and yellow).
Note that distances are not to scale
  2. Doyle et al., 2011. Science 333 pp. 1602-1606

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