Twin planets found a cloud of stars at a distance of about 65 light-years from Earth.
Astronomers may have managed to find the first binary planets we have ever seen outside of our solar system.
The two objects occupied the dividing line between the gas giants and the odd “failed stars”, known as brown dwarfs (in terms of mass). The newly minted bodies are similar to each other in age and size.
“They are probably brother and sister,” said Daniella Gagliuffie to Space.com. This is a graduate student at the University of California at San Diego who discovered objects.
“It looks a bit incestuous (incestuous),” she said, presenting her research at the summer meeting of the American astronomical community in San Diego in June.
A pair lies within a dense cloud of a cluster of stars that usually separate objects from each other. However, observations show that they are so close that interaction with other stars instead push them towards each other.
Galaxies are filled with stars. But they also have weak drifting objects with characteristics that make them argue about their status. They can be classified either as planets or as failed stars. And this creates a shaky dividing line in their definitions. This also applies to two Gagliuffi objects found in the process of searching for failed stars (brown dwarfs). She was looking for brown dwarfs that would help her explore the lower limit of what makes a star a star.
Unlike stars, brown dwarfs do not melt “normal” hydrogen. But these strange objects seem to be able to melt deuterium or “heavy” hydrogen.
The newly discovered pair weighs about 15 and 14 times the mass of Jupiter. But the error in the calculations can be so large that it can reach the planetary range.
Thus, the twins can be a pair of planets dancing around a central mass point (then they would be pioneers of binary exoplanets), but they can also be a pair of brown dwarfs or a brown dwarf visiting a massive gas giant.
The difficulty arises from the fact that brown dwarfs and young gas giants produce so faint light that it is very difficult to study its composition and differentiate them from each other.
Moreover, the young planets produce heat inside, slowly cooling during their entire life. Studies show that a couple is between 200 and 300 million years old. That is, they are young enough to confuse the situation.
Gagliuffi says there are a lot of brown dwarf pairs in the universe, but young binary planets are rare guests. If the siblings turn out to be failed stars, they could help to understand how the process of the formation of such objects occurs. Binary worlds are also considered rare. Some believe that in our solar system there is such a pair. It is Pluto and its largest satellite Charon. The orbit point of their mass is outside the boundaries of each of them, so this makes them a binary system.
The newly minted twins drift through the “whole zoo of different stars” at a distance of 926 million miles (1.49 trillion km) from each other. Although it sounds frighteningly far (10 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun), but in fact they are very close. Gagliuffi does not consider this an accident.
“Given how close they are, it’s very likely that there is a connection,” she says.
It is possible that the pair is connected to a third more distant star. Although so far this has not been confirmed. So Gagliuffi continues his search. True, the option remains that the twins swim in space without parental supervision by themselves.