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GW Orionis: Possibly the first exoplanet discovered orbiting three stars

The first exoplanet found orbiting three stars at the same time is the best explanation for the peculiarities of the extraordinary star system GW Orionis. This is the result of new models that a research team is now presenting, reports the New York Times. An alternative explanation, which was presented a year ago, is therefore less likely, they say. If their analysis is confirmed, we would not only have found the first exoplanet orbiting three stars, but also an indication that planets can also form in unusual places. Whenever an exoplanet could form, that would probably happen too.

GW Orionis is a star system 1,300 light years away from us with a torn, planet-forming disk of dust. It was analyzed with telescopes from the European Southern Observatory ESO. Protoplanetary disks like the torn one around GW Orionis are made of gas and dust. According to current theories, planets are created there by collisions and clumping. The disks are mostly flat, which creates systems like the one around our sun, the planets of which are all on one level. According to the analysis from last year, the three stars of GW Orionis have deformed and broken open the dust disc in their complex interplay. The team led by Jeremy Smallwood from the University of Nevada now contradicts this im Fachmagazin Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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(Quelle: ESO / Exeter / Kraus et al./L. Calçada)

As the researchers now explain, a giant gas planet like Jupiter is the best explanation for the observations. Accordingly, we would see how it clears its orbit comparatively shortly after its formation. If that turns out to be true, it would be fascinating, colleagues agree across from the New York Times too. Even three stars would then not be sufficient to prevent planets from forming. Exoplanets are then also conceivable with even more stars at the same time. The celestial spectacle on such an exoplanet cannot be compared with anything we know. The ESO telescopes will be used in the coming months to search for direct evidence of the postulated exoplanet. This could end the debate about the cause of the tilted panes.


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