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Astronomers make rare Star Wars-style planetary discovery

Astronomers have made only the second ever discovery of a multi-planet system that orbits two stars.

The planet BEBOP-1c was found by a team at the University of Birmingham.

It is part of a multiplanetary circumbinary system, the catchy name given to a system that contains planets that orbit around two stars in the centre.

Star Wars provides an apt point of comparison (honest) – while there’s only one sun in the sky above our planet, because there’s just one sun in our Solar System, the fictional desert world of Tatooine has two.


Indeed, the university itself describes the newly discovered system as “Tatooine-like”.

BEBOP-1c is named more like a droid than a planet, though. It’s named after the project that collected the data, with BEBOP standing for Binaries Escorted By Orbiting Planets.

The BEBOP-1 system is also known as TOI-1338.

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How did astronomers find the planet?

The team was already monitoring the BEPOP-1 system using the Doppler, or wobble, method.

That’s when researchers use space telescopes to measure the velocity of stars, and has previously been used to discover other planets outside our Solar System.

Astronomers had already found a planet in the BEPOP-1 system back in 2020, using NASA’s TESS telescope.

It was while using the wobble method to measure that first planet that the second one was found.

Astronomer David Martin said: “Only 12 circumbinary systems are known so far, and this is only the second that hosts more than one planet.”

The new planet has an orbital period of 215 days, and a mass 65 times larger than Earth.

Its actual size, though, remains a mystery for now, with further research to be done.

Astronomers are also not ruling out the discovery of a third planet in the same system.

BEBOP-1c’s finding is reported in the journal Nature Astronomy.


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