Binary Star Systems Could Harbor Habitable Exoplanets, New Research Showed

About 55% of all the stars in the Universe are part of a binary system. Meaning they have a companion with a stellar-mass orbiting around. The unknown side of such systems is whether the binary star systems can form exoplanets that could remain stable in their orbit long enough to evolve complex life.

Observations made so far proved that they might, but it isn’t clear if it is a law or just a mood. A new study conducted by Mariangela Bonavita, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal Observatory, is trying to find some answers.

It seems that if the two stars from the binary system keep their distance, then planets shouldn’t find any difficulties in orbiting the central star. But that’s unlikely, as the companions don’t usually keep the distance.

They prefer to orbit the main star closely so that they would have a stable relationship. There is no place for other planets to become stable around the central star.

Astronomers concluded that binary star systems could house habitable exoplanets

“Our results represent a further confirmation that planets can form in binary systems in spite of the unfavorable conditions,” said Mariangela Bonavita.

Giant exoplanets are detected outside the Solar System with the help of Doppler Spectroscopy. Doppler spectroscopy, also known as the radial-velocity method, is an indirect method for finding extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs from radial-velocity measurements via observation of Doppler shifts in the spectrum of the planet’s parent star.

The method is best at detecting very massive objects close to the parent star, which have the most significant gravitational effect on the parent star. About 880 extrasolar planets (about 21.0% of the total) were discovered using Doppler spectroscopy, as of February 2020.

Binary star systems are challenging to observe, so most of the time, they are excluded from planet search surveys. This makes the results of the study to be somehow biased.

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