Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Kepler 16b: First Circumbinary Planet

  • Nader Haghighipour
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_5295-3


Kepler-16b is the first circumbinary planet discovered around a pair of low-mass and main-sequence stars using the Kepler space telescope (Doyle et al. 2011). Data from the Kepler spacecraft revealed transits of the planet across both stars, in addition to the mutual eclipses of the binary (Fig. 1). The planet has a mass of 0.33 Jupiter masses, comparable to Saturn in mass and size, and is in a nearly circular orbit with a period of ~229 days. The host binary consists of two eclipsing stars, 0.69 and 0.20 times as massive as the Sun, and has an eccentric (0.16) orbit with a period of 41 days. The motions of all three bodies are confined to within 0.5° of a single plane, suggesting that the planet formed within a circumbinary disk. Kepler-16b is also the first circumbinary planet to have been detected in the habitable zone of its host binary (Haghighipour and Kaltenegger 2013). Although this planet is too large to be habitable, at least by terrestrial life forms, it may have...


Bioorganic Chemistry Solar System Life Form Circular Orbit Single Plane 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Doyle LR et al (2011) Kepler-16: a transiting circumbinary planet. Science 333:1602MathSciNetCrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Haghighipour N, Kaltenegger L (2013) Calculating the habitable zone of binary star systems. II. P-type binaries. Astrophys J 777(2), 166CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for AstronomyUniversity of Hawaii-ManoaHonoluluUSA