Jupiter-like planets may easily form around twin star systems

January 6th, 2009 - 12:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 6 (ANI): In a new study, astronomers have suggested that Jupiter-like planets may easily form around certain types of twin star systems.

A disk of molecules discovered orbiting a pair of twin young suns in the constellation Sagittarius strongly suggests that many such binary systems also host planets.

We think the molecular gas orbiting these two stars almost literally represents smoking gun evidence of recent or possibly ongoing giant (Jupiter-like) planet formation around the binary star system, said astronomer Joel Kastner, professor at Rochester Institute of Technologys Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

Kastner used the 30-meter radiotelescope operated by the Institut de Radio Astronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) to study radio molecular spectra emitted from the vicinity of the two stars in a binary system called V4046 Sgr, which lies about 210 light-years away from our solar system.

The scientists found in large abundance raw materials for planet formation around the nearby stars, including circumstellar carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, in the noxious molecular gas cloud.

The young stars, approximately 10 million years old, are close in proximity to each otheronly 10 solar diameters apartand orbit each other once every 2.5 days.

In this case, the stars are so close together, and the profile of the gas in terms of the types of molecules that are there is so much like the types of gaseous disks that we see around single stars, that its a real link between planets forming around single stars and planets forming around double stars, Kastner said.

Planets that have just formed around young stars like the V4046 Sgr twins might leave leftover gas, a potential clue for astronomers who hunt planets.

Kastner is now encouraging other scientists to look closely at V4046 Sgr to see if planets are forming around them.

We really dont have any idea right now about what kinds of planets form around double stars or even if planets can form around double stars, Kastner said.

Its not something thats established. Its theoretically possible, but Im not aware of a single observation yet of a planet orbiting a double star. I hope someone will go looking soon, if they havent already, around V4046 Sagittarius, he added. (ANI)

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