Near the tip of Orion’s nose resides an unusual planet that has puzzled researchers. Called GW Orionis, the system, which is located at a distance of 1,300 light-years away from Earth, is a fascinating triple solar system, with two suns following an orbit around each other in the center while a more distant one orbits around them.
The system was identified by using the bright tree rings of planet-forming dust, which seem to create the form of a bullseye on the sky.
A new planet
During the initial discovery, it was thought that only dust might be found in the rings, but it seems that this might not be the case. Two studies which were published recently argue that a young planet or the formation of a young planet could take place inside the inner ring.
The presence of such a planet would explain while the inner ring seems to have a wobbly shape since the gravitational pull of the planet could affect the gravitational balance of the system. If a planet is indeed present, the discovery would also mark the first known planet, which orbits three suns at once.
Simulations conducted by the researchers who contributed to one of the two studies suggest that the gravitational pull exerted by the three suns cannot explain the misalignment observed among the rings, and it is likely that the presence of the planet created a dust gap.
It is also worth noting that the three rings observed in the system aren’t aligned with any of the three stars. The inner ring is also fully misaligned with the larger outer rings. According to additional research, the outermost ring is also filled with enough material to facilitate the formation of 245 Earth-like planets, a trait which makes it the largest protoplanetary disk in the solar system.
The two studies were published in a scientific journal.