The newspaper Nature published an article co-authored by Joe carson, associate professor of astronomy at the College of Charleston, with his research team who recently discovered and captured an image of a giant planet orbiting Centauri, a binary system that contains the stars hosting the most massive planets detected at this day.
“This rare find represents one of the only circumbinary exoplanets – a planet orbiting two stars – to have ever been directly imaged. With the central binary star having a combined mass of at least six times that of the Sun, it is by far the most massive star system ever known to host a planet, ”says Carson, adding that a planetary system discovered by two CofC students in 2013 is tied for second. “In addition to its uniqueness, the giant gas planet has an orbital distance 100 times the distance from Jupiter to our own Sun, making it one of the largest orbiting planets ever discovered. Extreme in almost every way, the planetary system challenges our conventional ideas about how planets were formed. “
Indeed, on December 8, 2021, Nature A news article titled “Giant Planet Imagined Orbiting Two Massive Stars” reports that the discovery “stretched our collective imaginations on what a planetary system looks like.” And, as CNN reported, “this is just one of many findings rewriting what scientists understand about the formation of planets, especially under extreme circumstances.”
The full findings of the team, led by researchers at Stockholm University, are detailed in their Nature paper, titled “A giant wide orbiting planet in the high mass binary system b Centauri”.
“My main contribution to this investigation was the original work to help establish the observational survey, which was performed on the 8-meter VLT telescope in Chile,” Carson explains. “The investigation was a scientific extension of the previous generation investigation I conducted using the Subaru 8-meter telescope in Hawaii, which also searched for higher mass stars for gas giant planets.”