Researchers have found out the reason for the absence of a large number of planets similar to Earth. The reason is that rocky terrestrial exoplanets are hidden in the bright light of binary star systems, making them difficult to detect.
An international team of scientists conducted a study to find out why, over the years of space exploration, they have found so few Earth-like planets. It turned out that they are almost impossible to see in the light of binary stellar systems and in fact there are much more such exoplanets than previously thought. Scientists report their findings in an article published in the arXiv preprint repository.
The observations were carried out using two telescopes of the Gemini Observatory located in Hawaii and Chile. The researchers studied 517 stars previously identified as exoplanet candidates located within 1,630 light years.
It turned out that 73 stars have stellar companions, with the average distance between both stars reaching one hundred astronomical units (one astronomical unit is equal to the distance from the Sun to the Earth). The distance between stars in systems containing exoplanets is slightly greater than in commonly observed binaries. The results of the study suggest that a population of Earth-sized planets may hide in binary systems and go unnoticed using the transit method used by TESS and other telescopes.
Let us recall that the transit method (transit method) is a method for searching for exoplanets, based on the detection of a drop in the luminosity of a star during the passage of a planet in front of its disk. This photometric method allows you to determine the radius of the planet, while the above methods provide information about the mass of the planet.