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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Revealed: The amazing 'Star Wars' planet that has FOUR suns

-Four sun solar system KIC 4862625 is the first of its kind ever found
-Discovered by amateur astronomers as part of Yale University project
-Planet PH1 has been likened to Tatooine from the Star Wars films

Amateur astronomers have discovered a new planet that not only orbits two suns but is simultaneously being orbited by two other suns.
The incredible four sun solar system, the first of its kind ever discovered, was found as part of the Planet Hunters project led by a team from Yale University.
Amateur enthusiasts work alongside professional scientists to analyse data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope and find evidence of new worlds
The planet, called PH1, a gas giant slightly bigger than Neptune, has being likened to Tatooine, the fictional two-sun planet and childhood home of Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars films.

Deep space discovery: An artist's illustration of PH1, orbiting its two 'parent' suns with its other two suns far off in the distance

But while Tattoine is a circumbinary planet, the likes of which have been known to scientists for some time, PH1 takes things even further with an extra two suns orbiting the entire set-up.
It means if someone were able to stand on PH1, they would be able to see a double sunset as well as two extremely bright stars far off in the night sky.

The newly discovered PH1 planet is depicted in this artist's rendition transiting the larger of the two eclipsing stars it orbits. In the distance are a second pair of stars bound to the planetary system.

The quadruple star system, roughly 3,200 light-years from Earth, has been named KIC 4862625.
'It's fascinating to try and imagine what it would be like to visit a planet with four Suns in its sky, but this new world is confusing astronomers - it's not at all clear how it formed in such a busy environment,’ said Dr Chris Lintott, of Oxford University, one of the Planethunters.org team.
Debra Fischer, a professor of astronomy at Yale, and one of the founders of the Planet Hunters project said: 'This unique system might have been entirely missed if not for the sharp eyes of the public.'

Science fiction: PH1 is being likened to Tatooine, the fictional two-sun planet and childhood home of Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars films

PH1 was discovered by Planet Hunter volunteers, Kian Jek of San Francisco, Calif., and Robert Gagliano of Cottonwood, Ariz., who were using the transit method.
This involves noticing faint dips in light as the planet passed in front of, or transited, its parent stars.
Mr Gagliano said he was 'absolutely ecstatic' about the finding adding: 'It's a great honor to be a Planet Hunter, citizen scientist, and work hand in hand with professional astronomers, making a real contribution to science.'

source: dailymail

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