Astronomers observe second ever planet 'reared' by four stars

Astronomers have discovered a second ever planet with the four parent stars, suggesting planets in quadruple star systems might be less rare than previously thought.

ANI| Last Updated: Mar 05, 2015, 13:28 PM IST
Astronomers observe second ever planet 'reared' by four stars

Washington: Astronomers have discovered a second ever planet with the four parent stars, suggesting planets in quadruple star systems might be less rare than previously thought.

NASA stated that the planet, a gas giant 10 times more massive than Jupiter and located 136 light-years away in the constellation Aries, was known before, but it was thought to have only three stars, not four.

This was only the second time a planet has been identified in a quadruple star system. The first four-star planet, KIC 4862625, was discovered in 2013 by citizen scientists using public data from NASA's Kepler mission.

The discovery was made at Palomar Observatory using two new adaptive optics technologies that compensate for the blurring effects of Earth's atmosphere: the robotic Robo-AO adaptive optics system, developed under the leadership of Dr. Christoph Baranec of the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Institute for Astronomy, and the PALM-3000 extreme adaptive optics system, developed by a team at Caltech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that also included Baranec.

Recent research has shown that this type of star system, which usually consists of two pairs of twin stars slowly circling each other at great distances, is itself more common than previously believed.

The planet of the newfound system, 30 Ari, orbits its primary star in about a year's time, and the primary star has a relatively close partner star, which the planet does not orbit.

NASA mentioned that this pair was locked in a long-distance orbit with another pair of stars about 1,670 astronomical units away (about 251 billion kilometers).

The study is published in the Astronomical Journal.