Starry-Skied Planets Found Around Sun-Like Stars in a Cluster
For the first time astronomers have spotted starry skied planets orbiting sun-like stars. This new finding suggests that planets can appear in dense stellar environment.
These newfound planets are not habitable but have starry-skies like Earth. Called hot Jupiter's as they are massive and gaseous orbs boiling hot because they orbit tightly around their parent stars.
The astronomer noticed that each hot Jupiter circles a different sun-like star in the Beehive Cluster, also called the Praesep.
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The term beehive is referred to an open cluster or a grouping of stars that are born at the same time and out the similar giant cloud of material. After their birth these stars remain loosely bound together by mutual gravitational attraction.
"We are detecting more and more planets that can thrive in diverse and extreme environments like these nearby clusters," said Mario R. Perez, the NASA astrophysics program scientist in the Origins of Solar Systems Program. "Our galaxy contains more than 1,000 of these open clusters, which potentially can present the physical conditions for harboring many more of these giant planets."
The two new Beehive planets are called Pr0201b and Pr0211b.
"These are the first 'b's' in the Beehive," said Sam Quinn, a graduate student in astronomy at Georgia State University in Atlanta and the lead author of the paper describing the results, which was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
With the help of 1.5 meter Tillinghast telescope, Quinn and his team, in collaboration with David Latham at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, measured the slight gravitational wobble the orbiting planets bring upon their host stars.
"This has been a big puzzle for planet hunters," Quinn said. "We know that most stars form in clustered environments like the Orion nebula, so unless this dense environment inhibits planet formation, at least some sun-like stars in open clusters should have planets. Now, we finally know they are indeed there."
This new findings help the theorists to understand how hot Jupiters were so close to their stars. It is noticed that the stars in beehive have more heavy elements such as iron.
According to White, "Searches for planets around nearby stars suggest that these metals act like a 'planet fertilizer,' leading to an abundant crop of gas giant planets. Our results suggest this may be true in clusters as well."