According to a report titled “Planet formation around binary stars: Tatooine made easy” recently submitted to the Astrophysical Journal, a pair of astrophysicists– Ben Bromley of the University of Utah and Scott Kenyon of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory–have discovered a fourth star in a system of planets named 30 Ari, thus raising the quantity of known planet-bearing quadruple-sun systems to two.
Study lead author Lewis Roberts of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California stated: “Star systems come in myriad forms. There can be single stars, binary stars, triple stars, even quintuple star systems. It’s amazing the way nature puts these things together.”
The planetary system 30 Ari is located 136 light-years away from the sun in the constellation Aries. Scientists found a giant planet in the system back in 2009. It is approximately 10 times larger than Jupiter.
It orbits its main star every 335 days. The astronomers also reported that two stars are about 1,670 astronomical units away. (An AU is equivalent to the distance between Earth and the sun or almost 93 million miles.)
The newly-discovered star orbits its companion one time every 80 years, at a reported distance of 22 astronomical units but it does not influence the orbit of the planet even though it is that close. The astronomers say this is highly unusual and will study it further.
This is only the second time that a planet has been located in a four-star system. The first four-star planet called PH1b or Kepler-64b was discovered in 2012 by scientists using data from NASA’s Kepler mission.
A planet with more than one sun is less fiction and more science these days as researchers have found more than one planet that is reminiscent of Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker’s fictional home planet Tatooine.
Bromley concludes: “We took our sweet numerical time to show that the ride around a pair of stars can be just as smooth as around one,” when it concerns the early steps of the formation of a planet. “The ‘made easy’ part is really saying the same recipe that works around the sun will work around Tatooine’s host stars.”
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