Kepler 16b: First Circumbinary Planet
Living reference work entry
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...
KeywordsBioorganic Chemistry Solar System Life Form Circular Orbit Single Plane
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