The icy planet orbits the dimmer of the two stars in the system at a comparable distance as Earth does around our Sun.
Maybe not obviously habitable, the discovery of the planet is confusing researchers who thought that Earth-like planets would never be found in binary systems.
It may mean that we are very, very unaware of what bodies can actually form in space—there seem to be so many variations.
“This greatly expands the potential locations to discover habitable planets in the future. Half the stars in the galaxy are in binary systems. We had no idea if Earth-like planets in Earth-like orbits could even form in these systems.” – Scott Gaudi, professor of astronomy at Ohio State University
Interestingly, this planet doesn’t share the hot desert qualities of a Tatooine. Because it’s primary star is so faint, OGLE (let’s abbreviate it) is quite cold. The binary system companion star is about the same distance as Saturn is from our Sun, but because that one, too, is so faint, OGLE still retains its frozen form.
Until this point, astronomers would often overlook binary systems while planet hunting because they assumed no habitable bodies existed. No longer. Now, binary systems may receive a lot more attention.
There are certainly implications for the future of astronomical planet hunting. But what does this discovery spell for our understanding of the universe? Constantly, our assumptions about how objects form in galaxies are shattered. We soon realize that what we were certain of was debunked by a far-flung star system. Was Star Wars prescient then?
Photo Credit: The Ohio State University