Planet Illuminated by four stars discovered

by Felix Jude West

Planet Illuminated by four stars discovered

Image of the Sirius binary star, taken with the Hubble Telescope

Posted 7th November 2012

The planet, the first of its type, is thought to be a gas-giant, a little larger than Neptune. Its orbit takes it around a pair of stars, which has a second pair revolving around them.

Although binary stars aren’t in themselves very rare, only a few exoplanets have been found to orbit such phenomenon. Another pair of binary stars being located in near orbit makes the discovery more fascinating, as it confuses what is thought to be known about the formation of planets.

“All four stars pulling on it creates a very complicated environment. Yet there it sits in an apparently stable orbit.” Dr Chris Lintott, from Oxford University, told the BBC earlier three weeks ago. “That’s really confusing, which is one of the things which make this discovery so fun. It’s absolutely not what we would have expected.”

This is also especially notable, as this discovery was made by volunteers working for the planethunters.org website, along with a team from UK and US institutes; follow-up observations were made with the Keck Observatory.

The planet has been named PH1, after the planethunters website.

To view their website, click through:-

http://www.planethunters.org/

And to view the report on the Arxiv Server, which was submitted to the Astrophysical Journal:-

http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.3612

Felix Jude West

Felix Jude West has worked in film for over five years. Having trained in sound design, he has worked as a writer for documentary shorts and produced internet advertisments and short films over the past two years. He is currently working as a freelance producer and director as well as being part of the editorial staff at New Worlds. He lives in East London.

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