WASHINGTON — The universe is looking increasingly crowded as scientists Tuesday announced the first proof twin stars can host multiple planets — boosting their search for a planet that could support life.
“We’re seeing more and more planets in more and more situations,” Jerome Orosz, an astronomer at San Diego State University, told AFP.
“We’re almost to the point where you look at a star and say why doesn’t this have a planet?” he added.
Orosz is part of a team that has observed at least two planets orbiting around a pair of stars that are also orbiting each other.
It’s a potentially chaotic arrangement — with shifting gravity depending on where the stars are — that scientists weren’t sure was possible.
“After a star forms, it’s got a little bit of leftover material,” Orosz explained, “which eventually forms the Earth and the planets.”
“The question was, if you put the disk and debris around a binary (star), would it survive long enough to form planets? And the answer is yes.”
The newly discovered planets were found around Kepler-47, a Sun-sized orb paired with another about a third as big.
NASA’s Kepler telescope — searching through the universe for as many worlds as it can find — has already found bodies at four other twin stars.
But this is the first time astronomers have proof of more than one planet at a time.
And just maybe there’s a third planet in there as well, Orosz said, though they still need more data.
The planets are gas giants, around the size of Neptune. But these two are orbiting very close to their suns.
In fact, the outer planet is hanging out within that sweet spot scientists call the “habitable zone” — not too close and hot, not too far and cold.
That’s a first, too, and an exciting one, because it’s another step towards finding an Earth-size planet within that zone, somewhere out there.
“Now we can find planets in these sorts of orbits. So the next step is to look for smaller and smaller bodies,” Orosz explained, something that becomes easier as more data accumulates.
“If you go out at night and look at the sky, roughly half the stars you see are binary stars,” Orosz said.
“So the fact that you can find planets in the habitable zone of binary stars means you have lot more real estate” for potential life.
With Orosz as lead author, the team presented its findings in the magazine “Science.”
Republicans claim Democrats leaked John Bolton’s book that was given to the White House — then quickly back down
In a bizarre twist, Republicans are blaming Democrats for releasing information included in John Bolton's.
Speaking in a line of Republicans, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) explained that it was clear Democrats were part of some kind of conspiracy to turn senators against the speedy trial the White House wanted. With the revelation that Bolton confirmed President Donald Trump was indeed trying to bribe Ukraine, a very few Republican senators are more willing to call him as a witness.
The problem, of course, with Meadows' accusations is that the manuscript was never sent to Democrats. According to the New York Times report, Bolton sent the book to the White House for security checks to ensure nothing he put in the book was classified.
Ken Starr defends Trump as Bolton revelations roil trial
Pressure mounted on Republicans on Monday to call former national security advisor John Bolton as a witness at Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial following explosive new revelations about the US president's dealings with Ukraine.
As Clinton impeachment investigator Ken Starr resumed the White House defense of Trump on the Senate floor, at least three Republican senators indicated they would favor hearing testimony from the 71-year-old Bolton.
According to The New York Times, Bolton, in a draft of his upcoming book, says that Trump told him in August that he wanted to freeze military aid to Ukraine until Kiev opened an investigation into his potential November election rival Joe Biden.
White House lawyer says politicians must separate their business and political interests — even though Trump never has
On Monday, White House lawyer Eric Herschmann tried to change the subject of the impeachment trial to GOP conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden's work for Ukraine — and made an impassioned argument for overhauling ethics laws to prevent conflicts of interest for senior government officials.
"I actually think that this is something that is undisputed, that Ukraine had a particularly bad corruption problem," said Herschmann. "It was so corrupt that dealing with corruption and solving the corruption was a priority for our U.S. foreign policy. Here is how one knowledgeable observer of Ukraine put it in 2015. Quote, 'It is not enough to set up a new anti-corruption bureau and establish a prosecutor fight corruption, the office of prosecutor general needs to be reformed, and the judiciary needs to be overhauled, and the energy sector needs to be competitive and ruled by market principles and not sweetheart deals. It is not enough to push through the laws to increase transparency with regard to the official sources of income. Senior elected officials have to remove all conflicts between their business interests and their government responsibilities.'"