Washington: Scientists have discovered a planetary system consisting of at least two massive Jupiter-like planets orbiting the extremely close binary star system NN Serpentis.
The discovery was made by an international consortium of astronomers, including undergraduate and graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin.
The team used a wide variety of observations taken over two decades from many telescopes, including two at The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory in West Texas.
Because of the disturbing effects of a binary star system’s gravity, astronomers normally do not expect to find planets in such systems, but the research team was able to use the eclipses of the stars as a precise clock whose irregularities could be used to detect planets in orbit around the binary.
The results are published online in the current edition of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.