Written by Kevin C. Ness | published
Astronomers think they may have detected evidence of the Trojan planet system – a system in which two planets share the same orbit. It’s a possibility that has long been hypothesized but not yet noticed. That is, unless, according to scientists’ suspicions, these latest findings are confirmed.
Scientists have finally found evidence of the existence of the Trojans, two planets that share an orbit, in a galaxy far, far away.
the magazine Astronomy and astrophysics I recently published the results of astronomers studying a possible Trojan planet system orbiting PDS 70, a young star appearing in the constellation Centaurus. The system is about 370 light-years from Earth and, if verified, would be the first such discovery by scientists. And so far, the evidence looks pretty good.
The potential Trojan is tracking a massive gaseous exoplanet, PDS 70b, roughly three times the size of Jupiter. The debris cloud is twice the mass of our Moon in the same orbital path. Astronomers think this mass may be either a new planet starting to form or the remnants of a planet that broke apart.
Researchers considered Trojan planets to be “like a unicorn” theoretically possible, but they have not yet been observed.
Study co-author Jorge Lillo Box, a researcher at the Madrid Center for Astrobiology, said in a statement that until this point the Trojans (or “external beings”) had been “like unicorns.” While theoretically possible, it has never been confirmed to be observed. The discovery of a system containing this phenomenon would be a long-standing hypothesis come true.
The concept of the Togan Planets is based on the known and common presence of Trojans. These rocky asteroid bodies share an orbital path with a planet and occur across our solar system, including thousands of asteroids on the orbital path of Jupiter. If these objects can exist along planetary orbits, as astronomers have speculated, then it may be possible for entire planets to do the same, given the right conditions.
Those conditions which could allow the existence of a Trojan planet were, up to now, so rare that they have hitherto remained undiscovered. The prospect of discovering planets that share the same orbit is “amazing,” says Olga Balsalobre-Rosa.
Trojan planets can be found in science fiction, with Marvel’s Counter-Earth as just one example.
known as the salubri-rosa; She’s the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Astrobiology. Together, she and Lillo-Box embarked on a potentially auspicious discovery that could put them in the history books in the field of astronomy.
Together with their research team, the pair looked for Trojan planets in data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), an array of radio telescopes in Chile. They used the array to analyze the PDS 70 system, finding both the gas giant PDS 70b and the debris cloud, which was in the same position as they would expect to find the planet Trojan. But it will be some time before they can confirm their findings.
If they do find evidence of the existence of Trojans, they won’t know for sure until at least 2026, when they’ll be able to measure the orbit of PDS 70b and the debris cloud around the star PDS 70. If their findings are confirmed, they’ll become the astronomical unicorn discoverers.
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