BBC News Sci/Tech: Planet found orbiting two stars

Discovery Canada:

August 20, 1999

Discovered! A planet that orbits twin stars.

For the first time, astronomers may have discovered a planet that orbits two stars. Binary stars are very common, and theoretically it is possible for a planet to orbit two stars. And although planets have been found orbiting one of a pair of stars, no planets have been spotting both stars of a binary star system - until now. A 'micro-lensing' event allowed the discovery. These occur when an object, such as a dim star or planet, passes directly between Earth and another star. The gravity of the intervening star or planet acts like a magnifying glass, improving the view of the more distant star. In June, the 'gravity lens' allowed astronomers to see a specific pattern of light that could not be due to just one star - it needed two stars and a planet to explain it. It is thought that the two stars are both smaller and dimmer than our Sun, and orbit each other at a distance of 240 million kilometres. Outside these stars, a Jupiter-sized planet orbits the pair at a distance of about 1050 million kilometres.

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