NASA discovers largest circumbinary planet outside solar system

Researchers at NASA announced on Monday that they have identified the largest exoplanet orbiting two stars. Dubbed as Kepler-1647 b, the planet’s size is similar to that of Jupiter, and it takes around 1107 days to orbit around its two stars.

Astronomers at NASA were able to discover this planet using the Kepler Space Telescope. Further, these findings were revealed at the meeting of American Astronomical Society in San Diego, California. This discovery is eleventh of its kind and increases the number of planets discovered by Kepler Space Telescope to 1285.

Interestingly, this huge planet which shares a few characteristics with Jupiter is within the ‘habitable zone’ as well.
A statement from San Diego State University informed, “Kepler-1647 b is further from its two stars than any other known circumbinary planet, placing it in an orbit that puts the planet within the so-called habitable zone”.

On paper, this implies that this exoplanet is neither too hot nor cold and can support life because there is a possibility regarding the existence of water.

The gaseous nature of Kepler 1647-b indicates that the chances for the existence of life are bleak, but maybe the planet’s moon can have a ‘life-supporting nature’.

According to a research paper which is going to be published in The Astrophysical Journal, Kepler 1647-b is almost as old as Earth (4.4 billion years). Moreover, its stars are also similar to the sun wherein one is slightly larger than the other. Moreover, its stars are also similar to the sun wherein one is slightly larger than the other.

Now, a light year is equivalent to around 9.5 billion kilometers, and Kepler 1647-b is located at a distance of 3700 light years from Earth, located near the Cygnus Constellation.

The discovery is significant because generally, identifying a circumbinary planet is a little hard, reports co-author William Welsh, an astronomer at SDSU. Reason being, the transits are irregularly spaced and have differences in terms of duration and depth as well.