Amateur astronomers discover new planet with four suns
Reno, NV, United States (4E) – A new four-sun planet has been discovered by two amateur astronomers.
It is the first reported case of a planet orbiting a double-star that is being orbited by a second pair of stars, the phenomenon is called a circumbinary planet in a four-star system.
Researchers announced the rare finding Monday at the yearly conference of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Reno, Nevada.
Planet Hunter 1 or PH1, the name given to the new planet, was discovered by volunteers from the Planet Hunters citizen project.
Members of the group published through its website, data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s $600 million Kepler telescope, and all the findings were coordinated with Yale astronomers.
While studying the available data, “citizen scientists” Robert Gagliano and Kian Jek uncovered anomalies that validated the existence of the special planet. It is the first heavenly body found by the online citizen science project.
Natalie Batalha, a Kepler scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California said “I celebrate this discovery for the wow-factor of a planet in a four-star system.”
She added that “most importantly, I celebrate this discovery as the fruit of exemplary human cooperation — cooperation between scientists and citizens who give of themselves for the love of stars, knowledge, and exploration.”
The planet is a little bigger than Neptune, with a radius of about six times bigger than Earth, and it
orbits its host stars every 137 days.