Researchers Find That Bright Nearby Double Star Fomalhaut Is Actually A Triple
The nearby star system Fomalhaut – of special interest for its unusual exoplanet and dusty debris disk – has been discovered to be not just a double star, as astronomers had thought, but one of the widest triple stars known.
In a paper recently accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal and posted today to the preprint server arXiv, researchers show that a previously known smaller star in its vicinity is also part of the Fomalhaut system.
Eric Mamajek, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, and his collaborators found the triple nature of the star system through a bit of detective work. “I noticed this third star a couple of years ago when I was plotting the motions of stars in the vicinity of Fomalhaut for another study,” Mamajek said. “However I needed to collect more data and gather a team of co-authors with different observations to test whether the star’s properties are consistent with being a third member of the Fomalhaut system.”