Astrophoto: Triple Star System Gliese 667 – Home of ‘Goldilocks’ Exoplanets

by Nancy Atkinson on July 3, 2013

The nearby triple star system Gliese 667, taken on June 29, 2013. Credit and copyright: Efrain Morales, Jaicoa Observatory, Puerto Rico.

The nearby triple star system Gliese 667, taken on June 29, 2013. Credit and copyright: Efrain Morales, Jaicoa Observatory, Puerto Rico.

Here is a great new observation of the triple star system Gliese 667 from astrophotographer Efrain Morales of the Jaicoa Observatory in Puerto Rico. Recently, one of the stars, 667 C was found to have perhaps seven planets orbiting it! If all seven planets are confirmed, the system would consist of three habitable-zone super-Earths, two hot planets further in, and two cooler planets further out. Scientists say that the ‘f’ planet is “a prime candidate for habitability.”

Efrain also created an animation of the star system, showing the stars’ movements:

The animation was created using plates from the DSS (Digitized Sky Survey) with the final image in the animation from Efrain’s observations.

Gif animation of The animation of the triple star system Gliese 667, created using plates from the DSS (Digitized Sky Survey) with the final image in the animation from  Jaicoa Observatory. Credit and copyright: Efrain Morales. Click for animation.

Gif animation of The animation of the triple star system Gliese 667, created using plates from the DSS (Digitized Sky Survey) with the final image in the animation from Jaicoa Observatory. Credit and copyright: Efrain Morales. Click for animation.

The system is in the constellation of Scorpius and is just barely visible to the unaided eye at magnitude 5.9 – appearing as a single point of light. The three stars orbit each other in a complicated dance. The two brightest components of this system, Gliese 667 A and Gliese 667 B, are orbiting each other at about 13 times the separation of the Earth from the Sun, while Gliese 667 C is the smallest stellar component of this system, and orbits the other two stars at about 230 AU.

Efrain used a LX200ACF 12 in. OTA, F6.3, CGE mount, ST402xm CCD, Astronomik LRGB filter set.

Thanks to Efrain Morales and the Jaicoa Observatory for providing this latest look at an extremely interesting star system!

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About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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