Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Do all stars have solar systems?

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 01/16/2013
Q:
Do all stars have solar systems?
- Patrick (age 24)
Edmonton Alberta Canada
A:

Hi Patrick!

That's an interesting question. As it turns out, most stars have solar systems, but the majority of these are very different from our own. Most stars have fewer - if any - orbiting bodies (as of today, there are a total of distributed across 677 planetary systems, ) and, as we're exploring this galaxy, we're finding far more systems of two or more stars than we are single-star systems. To date, we've observed systems of up to seven stars, but there could theoretically be an unlimited number in one system.

That said, it's important to recognize that our detection methods are definitely biased in favor of larger planets closer to their central stars. Just because we don't see a planet doesn't mean it's not there - it may be that we're not seeing the whole picture.

But, as far as we know right now, your typical solar system (at least in the Milky Way) has more stars than ours, and few or no planets - probably not what you were expecting!

Cheers,

Becca


(published on 01/16/2013)

Follow-up on this answer.