Nov 8, 2023

This is a first: An exoplanet in a polar circumbinary disk surrounding two stars

Posted by in category: space

We live in an age of exoplanet discovery. One thing we’ve learned is not to be surprised by the kinds of exoplanets we keep discovering. We’ve discovered planets where it might rain glass or even iron, planets that are the rocky core remnants of gas giants stripped of their atmospheres, and drifting rogue planets untethered to any star.

Now, astronomers have uncovered evidence of an in a circumbinary disk around a . The remarkable thing about this discovery is that the disk is in a polar configuration. That means the exoplanet moves around its binary star in a circumpolar orbit, and this is the first one scientists have found.

AC Herculis (AC Her) is a binary star about 4,200 light-years away. The primary star is well-studied, while its partner is invisible. It has a polar circumbinary disk, which is unusual but not unheard of. In a new paper, a team of researchers presents evidence for the polar circumbinary exoplanet.

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