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The discovery of planets in binary star systems is one the interesting surprises of modern astronomy. Despite the long history of the study of planets in such environments, the recent detection of planets in moderately close binaries has confronted astronomers with many new challenges. Many aspects of the formation process of these planets are still unresolved, and questions regarding their frequency and detection techniques demand more detailed investigation.

The habitability of binary systems is also an open question. Although recent simulations of the late stage of terrestrial planet formation in binary systems have

Fig. 9.28. Artistic rendition of the view from the moon of a giant planet in a triple star system. Figure from JPL-Caltech/NASA.

indicated that water-carrying planets can form in the habitable zone of a binary-planetary system, more studies are necessary to understand how protoplanetary objects can develop and evolve in such an environment. Such studies have implications for investigating the habitability of extrasolar planets, and tie directly to several of near-future NASA missions, in particular, the space mission Kepler.

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