Astronomers Discover A Planet With Three Suns

Posted: Apr 2 2016, 12:41am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 2 2016, 12:46am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Astronomers Discover a Planet with Three Suns
Artist's concept of HD 1885 Ab, the first known planet with triple-star system. Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Triple-star system is extremely rare and planet KETL-4Ab is just the fourth known such planetery system

Astronomers are stunned to find a planet which has not one, not two but three suns in its sky. 

The planet, called KETL-4Ab, was once thought to have a single star but further observations suggested that it is actually a pair of stars that is located close to a giant star. In other words, if someone views it from the planet itself, he will see a triple star system - a very large star around which the planet orbits and two relatively small stars close to it. The main star is brighter than the two and serves as the sun for the planet.

Planetary system with three stars is extremely rare. In fact, it is only the fourth planet with triple star system discovered so far. The newly found planet is a gas giant which is similar in size to the largest planet in our solar system Jupiter. 

The planet completes its orbit around giant star KELT –A in three days. The two other stars, named KELT B and C, are so distant that it takes 30 years to orbit around each other and almost 4 thousand years to orbit KELT-A. 

KELT-A appears forty times as big as our Sun. The two other stars are much dimmer due to their distance and shine almost as bright as our Moon.

Scientists were aware of the presence of the planet for a while but it was not until recently they were able to get a closer look at the system. The new research effort involved two powerful telescopes placed in two different locations – one in Arizona and the other in South Africa. Together these telescopes are known Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT). That is how the planet has got its name as well.

Finding a three star system in outer space is a remarkable discovery and it may help scientists understand the origin of such unusual systems.

Source: Phys. org


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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