A group of astronomers have discovered a huge planet, ten times larger than Jupiter, that has four parent stars.
Researches suggest that the multi-star system, named 30 Ari system, is almost 136 years away from Earth, which may seem far away, but on the galactic scale is actually very close. The discovery was made with the help of an optics system developed by researchers from India.
In the entire history of astronomy, this is only the second time that a planet has been found in a quadruple star system. The planet was known before, but the experts thought to have only three stars, not four. The first of this kind, named KIC 4862625, was discovered in 2013 by citizen journalists using public data obtained by NASA’s Kepler mission.
During daytime on this planets, three of the stars are visible: two very bright Suns and one small star. According to the astronomers that discovered the rare planet, it is highly unlikely that 30 Ari or any of the moons that might circle it could sustain life.
The find may help astronomers learn more about how planets that are part of multiple star systems and the challenges they face. The planets in our solar system circle only one star – the Sun -, but other distant planets, called exoplanets, are dependent on two or more stars.
To make this kind of discovery, an international team set up base at the the Palomar Observatory in San Diego. They installed on the telescopes instruments like the highly advandced Robo-AO adaptive optics system, developed by the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and the the PALM-3000 adaptive optics system, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, and Caltech.
The research points to the fact that planets in quadruple star systems might be more common than once thought.
“Approximately four per cent of solar-type stars are in quadruple systems,” said co-author Andrei Tokovinin of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The 30 Ari system is located 136 light-years away in the constellation Aries.
The system has a huge gaseous planet, which orbits its primary star every 335 days.
Researchers are trying to understand how these systems interact and how they came to be formed.
Image Source: Mirror