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Silly system: Orion is a big planet orbiting three suns

Silly system: Orion is a big planet orbiting three suns


Astronomers have a solar system in the constellation Orion DiscoverThis, if you think about it, can drive a mathematician crazy. Because there is a planet that probably orbits around three stars.

The so-called three-body problem has caused a headache to many mathematicians. The goal here is to find a solution to the trajectory of the three bodies that affect each other in space through their gravity. This indicates that the stable system constellation of three stars is rather rare.

The results of the Milky Way survey look accordingly: binary star systems are fairly common. At a distance of 1,100 light-years, a system with three stars has now also been found. And there is a high probability that one of them will also include a large planet, which will complicate the whole thing even more.

VLT and ALMA in action

Because with the mathematical multi-body problem, a body can be largely neglected if it only has a very small mass. The small planet, which has so far avoided any collision with one of its stars in a chaotic orbit and with a lot of luck, will not at least have a significant impact on the orbit of the Sun. However, in the present case, there are many indications that the planet is a gas giant similar to Jupiter, which in no way can be ignored.

The system was examined last year by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Large Millimeter/ Submillimeter Atacama Array (ALMA), both located in the Andean highlands of Chile. The recorded data together with the corresponding analyses have now been published. The planet itself cannot be observed – but this is not uncommon for exoplanets. However, the three stars are surrounded by a large gas disk with a very large gap. Here, at least, is the most likely explanation that a large planet has penetrated. This is also known from Saturn’s rings, where the young moon Pan creates a hiatus.

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