Alpha Centauri Could Have a Super Jupiter in Orbit

This image of the sky around the bright star Alpha Centauri AB also shows the much fainter red dwarf star, Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. The picture was created from pictures forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. The blue halo around Alpha Centauri AB is an artifact of the photographic process, the star is really pale yellow in colour like the Sun. Image Credit: Digitized Sky Survey 2 Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin/Mahdi Zamani

The three-body problem is one of Nature’s thorniest problems. The gravitational interactions and resulting movements of three bodies are notoriously difficult to predict because of instability. A planet orbiting two stars is an example of the three-body problem, but it’s sometimes called a “restricted three-body problem.” In that case, there are some potential stable orbits for a planet.

A new study shows that the nearby Alpha Centauri AB pair could host a Super Jupiter in a stable orbit.

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