Astronomers have just made the second discovery of a multi-planet system orbiting two stars.
The planet BEBOP-1c was found by a team at the University of Birmingham.
It is part of a multi-planet periodic system, the catchy name given to a system containing planets orbiting two central stars.
Star Wars provides a suitable (honest) point of comparison – while there is only one sun in the sky above our planet, because there is only one sun in our Solar System, the desert world Tatooine’s fiction has two suns.
Indeed, the university itself described the newly discovered system as “Tatooine-like”.
However, BEBOP-1c is named more like a robot than a planet. It is named after the project that collected the data, with BEBOP standing for Binaries Escorted By Orbiting Planets.
The BEBOP-1 system is also known as TOI-1338.
How did astronomers find the planet?
The team monitored the BEPOP-1 system using the Doppler method, or oscillation.
That’s when researchers use space telescopes to measure the velocities of stars, and have previously been used to explore other planets outside our Solar System.
Astronomers have found a planet in the BEPOP-1 system in 2020, using NASA’s TESS telescope.
It was while using the wobble method to measure the first planet that the second was found.
Astronomer David Martin said: “To date, only 12 periodic systems are known, and this is only the second to contain more than one planet.”
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The new planet has an orbital period of 215 days and a mass 65 times that of Earth.
However, its actual size remains a mystery, requiring further research.
Astronomers also do not rule out the discovery of a third planet in the same system.
BEBOP-1c’s findings are reported in the journal Nature Astronomy.