Astronomers have stumbled upon a magnificent discovery: they have identified two planets situated in a gravitational dance in the cosmos. The researchers that have made the discovery explain that these two are moving around with graceful, but strange movements, as they interact with both of their gravities. The planet couple was first observed as part of the WASP (Wide Area Search for Planets) international consortium.
The two planets involved in this, WASP-148c and WASP-148b, currently orbit a star very similar to the Sun about 800 light-years away. This all happens in a constellation known as Hercules. Scientists explained that, in a truly odd phenomenon, the two celestial bodies are able to feel each other’s gravity.
How the phenomenon works, on a more basic level, is that the WASP-148b accelerates and slows as it overtakes WASP-148c on the inside because WASP-148b is significantly faster than its dancing partner. To the people observing the two planets, it almost looks like the couple is engaged in a dance.
Professor Andrew Collier Cameron, affiliated with the University of St Andrew, who has led the research, stated that this is the first time that they have found a pair of giant planets that interact so closely with each other. It is incredible to be able to follow their interaction so closely from the ground.
The international team of scientists that has been involved in studying the matter also included researchers from the University of Warwick and The Open University. The discovery is especially amazing because it was made using instruments on Earth, not space telescopes, as it is often the case these days.
WASP-14b was initially identified using a range of instruments that were placed at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory located in La Palma, Canary Islands. The star system was observed after that, using an instrument known as SOPHIE.