Planet in a triple-star system discovered

The Conversation (DM) | Published: 9:54 AM Mar 27 2021
World Planet in a triple-star system discovered

KOI-5Ab is a newly discovered planet in a triple-star system.

It is a great example of the kind of astonishing discoveries that result from co-operation between large teams of astronomers using different types of telescopes and observation techniques.

There is a stereotype that “lone genius” scientists make discoveries without any help from others. This is propagated by the prestigious Nobel Prize, which is awarded to at most two or three scientists at a time.

But major discoveries, particularly in the fields of astronomy and physics, are increasingly achieved by teams of dozens or even hundreds of scientists combining data from multiple experiments and observation techniques.

One of the fastest-growing areas of astronomy research is the study of planets in other solar systems, called exoplanets. As of this writing, 4,367 exoplanets have been discovered using a variety of clever indirect techniques.

The radial velocity technique, which has been used to discover 833 exoplanets so far. This technique measures tiny shifts in the colour of light from the star as it is gently tugged by its orbiting exoplanet.

Most of the early exoplanet discoveries were made using this technique.

But now more than three-quarters of the known exoplanets have been discovered using the transit technique. This technique works by measuring a star’s brightness over time, watching for regularly repeated drops in brightness, which could be caused by a planet passing in front of a star during its orbit.

The co-operation between astronomers using many different observation techniques has led to incredible discoveries like the KOI-5Ab system and large team efforts and collaborations between telescope facilities will continue to produce astronomical discoveries remarkable enough to surpass science fiction.

The Conversation (DM) | Published: 9:54 AM Mar 27 2021

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