Planet with four suns discovered by volunteers
Astronomers have found a planet whose skies are illuminated by four different suns – the first known of its type.
The distant world orbits one pair of stars which have a second stellar pair revolving around them.
The discovery was made by volunteers using the Planethunters.orgwebsite along with a team from UK and US institutes; follow-up observations were made with the Keck Observatory.
A report on the Arxiv server has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal.
The planet, located just under 5,000 light-years away, has been named PH1 after the Planet Hunters site.
It is thought to be a “gas giant” slightly larger than Neptune – more than six times the radius of the Earth.
“You don’t have to go back too far before you would have got really good odds against one of these systems existing,” Dr Chris Lintott, from the University of Oxford, told BBC News.
“All four stars pulling on it creates a very complicated environment. Yet there it sits in an apparently stable orbit.
“That’s really confusing, which is one of the things which makes this discovery so fun. It’s absolutely not what we would have expected.”
Binary stars – systems with pairs of stars – are not uncommon. But only a handful of known exoplanets (planets that circle other stars) have been found to orbit such binaries. And none of these binary systems are known to have another pair of stars circling them.
found by volunteers..thats refreshing..but what does it all mean?
i guess if a planet can have 4 suns..a planet can also have 2 suns eh? :)