An international team of astronomers has released a new study explaining the unusual structure of the three-star system GW Orionis in the Orion galaxy.
There is now more evidence that the strange star system located at the nose of the Orion galaxy may contain a very rare planet in the known universe: a small exoplanet orbiting three suns simultaneously.
The stellar system known as GW Orionis (or GW Ori), located about 1,300 light-years from Earth, is an attractive destination for study. With three dusty orange rings intertwined, the system actually looks like the eye of a giant bull (circles where people shoot arrows in an attempt to hit the center of the target).
In the middle of these circles live 3 stars, two of which are trapped in a narrow binary orbit, and the third is widely orbiting the other two stars.
Scientists take a closer look at GW Ori using the Atacama Large Millimeter / Sub Millimeter Array Telescope (ALMA) in Chile, in a study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters in 2020. They found that the three dust rings of the system were actually out of balance with each other, with its inner ring ring actively oscillating in its orbit.
The team suggested that a small planet could affect the gravitational balance of the three complex loop arrangements in the GW Ori. If the discovery is confirmed, it will be the first three sun (or “round”) planets in the known universe.
Now, a paper published in the Royal Astronomical Society’s monthly announcements on September 17 provides new evidence for the existence of this rare planet. The research team conducted 3D simulation to model how mysterious gaps could form in the rings of a star system based on observations of other dust rings (or “protoplanetary disks”) elsewhere in the universe.
The team tested two hypotheses: the gap in the rings of GW Ori appeared when the torque (rotational force) used by the three rotating stars at the center of the system or when a planet formed within a ring.
The scientists concluded that there was not enough turbulence in the rings for the stellar moment theory to work. Instead, the simulations may be a large Jupiter-sized planet or several, often explaining the strange shape and behavior of the rings.
If future observations of the organization support this theory, GW Ori told Jeremy Smallwood, a senior research writer at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, the New York Times that “an orbit is the first evidence of a hole being drilled in real time.”
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