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article imageBinary system planet first to be discovered using microlensing

By Greta McClain     Jul 4, 2014 in Science
Scientists with NASA have announced the rare discovery of a planet orbiting two red dwarf stars some 3,300 light-years away from earth.
Binary systems, a system in which two space objects are close enough together that the gravitational interaction results in a the same orbit of a single mass, is not unusual. According to Science News, what makes this discovery rare is that it is the first to be found using microlensing, a method of detecting planets at great distances.
What is also rare about the planet is the fact it is that it is the first planet-hosting binary system is which both stars are M dwarfs according to I09.com.
Another interesting fact is that that the planet only orbits one of the two stars, essentially ignoring the other star. Planets that orbit both stars are known as circumbinary planets, which are quite common. However, the newly discovered planet appears to consistently keep an approximate orbit of 0.8 AU from one star.
The rocky and frozen planet, known as OGLE-2013-BLG-0341LBb, actually orbits the smaller, dimmer red dwarf star. According to Space.com, the planet orbits closer to the star than earth, but is mostly frozen, with a surface temperature of around negative 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This is due to the fact its star is 400 times dimmer than our sun.
Darren DePoy, an astronomer and exoplanet expert at Texas A&M University, said:
"The planet is interesting because of the similarity with its mass and orbit relative to its star being about the same as ours. Because the star is much less luminous than the Sun, however, the planet is cold."
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