The vastness of Space has thrown up another interesting planet for us to study. Recently, astronomers have discovered a cold planet situated in a binary star system located nearly 3000 light-years from our Solar System.
Location of the PlanetThe newly discovered planet belongs to the star system OGLE-2013-BLG-0341 which is a binary star system. The star system itself is located inside the Sagittarius constellation. The planet is called OGLE-2013-BLG-0341LBb.
The mass of the planet is nearly twice of that of Earth. Binary star systems have two stars inside, as the name suggests and this planet is orbiting around one of the two.
The star which it orbits is colder. Our Sun is 400 times hotter than that star. Therefore, the planet too is very cold and it seems that its temperature should be around minus 213 degrees in the Celsius scale. The other star in the system is quite dim as well.
Importance of the discoveryThe planet OGLE-2013-BLG-0341LBb is crucial to astronomy. The shape of its orbit is very nearly identical to the one which our own Earth follows around the Sun. The relative mass of that planet to its star is quite similar to the relative mass between our Sun and Earth. The distance between the planet and its star is also remarkably similar to the distance between our Earth and our Sun.
Scott Gaudi, Professor of Astronomy, Ohio State, considers the discovery to be an important one. Half the stars which are present in our galaxy are part of binary systems. Astronomers did not know if it was possible for Earth-like planets, following orbits similar to Earth, to form in systems with binary stars.”
The discovery was made possible due to the joint efforts of 4 teams, of international expertise, led by Prof. Andrew Gould, Ohio State. The discovery proves that it is possible for terrestrial planets to form in an orbit which is similar to Earth. It is possible that there are other similar planets which are terrestrial in the Milky Way. It is also realistically possible that some of them might have developed life just like in Earth.
The Future of OGLEOGLE stands for Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment. Generally, astronomers used to various techniques to infer the existence of planets or stars but those techniques were not as effective when it came to binary star systems.
Prof. Gould explains that when it comes to gravitational microlensing, they do not look at the light which comes from the star-planet system. Instead they simply observe how the system’s gravity affects the light coming from a different and distant star. This has given astronomers a new tool with which search in binary star systems for new planets.
The professor believes that it is now going to be possible not only to determine whether a planet exists, but it will also be easy to gain even more information about it. Now astronomers can use OGLE to find out the mass of the planet along with the distance between it and its star.
The experiment has proven to be a huge success. Prof. Scott Gaudi believes that the experiment has greatly expanded the possible locations where habitable planets can be discovered in the future.