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Twin Planets Discovered around a Single Star

Twin Planets Discovered around a Single Star

Above: An illustration of the two newly discovered planets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

33 light years from Earth, two rocky planets have been discovered orbiting a single dwarf star. A team at MIT has presented its new findings of this system, but they couldn't have done it alone.

The star, HD 260655, was being carefully watched for dips in brightness by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Period dips often represent the passing orbit of a planet around the star. The TESS team found what they thought may have been one of these planets, but the process of true identification is a long one; it can take years for planets to be confirmed.

However, this was not the first time HD 260655 had been observed. An independent survey at Calar Alto Observatory in Spain carried years worth of data, with their observation beginning in 1998. Sharing data in science isn't always easy— after all, you wouldn't want your years of work to go used without credit, but the two teams worked together to discover not one but two new planets orbiting the star.

They're both about 2-3 times larger than Earth and reach a hot 700 degrees Kelvin (that's about 800 Fahrenheit and 430 Celsius), but scientists on the team are still quite interested in the system. Where there's one planet, there might be more— and they've already found two. With the brightness of the star and the confirmed presence of rocky bodies, it's possible they could find a planet with more Earth-like conditions in the coming years.

Check out the full announcement from MIT here!

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