Most planet searches focus on single stars, like the sun. But half of all sun-like stars actually live in binary or multiple stellar systems, whose planet-hosting capability may be quite different. Although planets in binary systems are common in pop culture (think Tattoine in Stark Wars, or Gallifrey from Doctor Who), we know far less about them empirically than their counterparts in single star systems. In binary systems, planets can occupy either circum-stellar or circum-binary orbits, but many orbital configurations are thought to be unstable due to the effects of the binary companion. Binaries are also thought to affect the proto-planetary disks of their companions, affecting their ability to form planets at all.
In this talk, I will describe the current state of our theoretical and observational knowledge of the occurrence rates and statistics of planets in binary star systems. I’ll also discuss efforts to simulate the habitability of planets in binaries, which may pass in and out of the so-called habitable zone in their trajectories around one or both of the stars in their system.
Speaker: Dr. Lea Hirsch, KIPAC, Stanford University
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