News / USA

Citizen Astronomers Discover Planet with Four Suns

An artist's illustration of PH1, a planet discovered by volunteers from the Planet Hunters citizen science project. PH1, shown in the foreground, is the first reported case of a planet orbiting a double-star that, in turn, is orbited by a second distant pAn artist's illustration of PH1, a planet discovered by volunteers from the Planet Hunters citizen science project. PH1, shown in the foreground, is the first reported case of a planet orbiting a double-star that, in turn, is orbited by a second distant p
x
An artist's illustration of PH1, a planet discovered by volunteers from the Planet Hunters citizen science project. PH1, shown in the foreground, is the first reported case of a planet orbiting a double-star that, in turn, is orbited by a second distant p
An artist's illustration of PH1, a planet discovered by volunteers from the Planet Hunters citizen science project. PH1, shown in the foreground, is the first reported case of a planet orbiting a double-star that, in turn, is orbited by a second distant p
Imagine if four suns rose and set every day.

That could be the reality on the newly discovered planet, PH1 (Planet Hunters 1).

Citizen astronomers contributing to the PlanetHunters.org website discovered PH1 with the help of a Yale University-led team of international astronomers that enlists the public to review data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft for signs of distant planets.

PH1 orbits a double star, which in turn orbits a distant pair of stars. It is the first reported discovery of a circumbinary planet in a four-star system, according to a press release issued by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The planet is estimated to be a bit larger than Neptune and, like Neptune, is believed to be a gas giant. PH1 orbits its host stars every 137 days. Beyond the planet's orbit, approximately 900 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth, a second pair of stars orbits the planetary system.

“Anyone viewing the sky from PH1 would have a spectacular view of all four stars,” according to a blog post on the Planet Hunters website. “More importantly, this amazing system will help us understand how and where planets can form – producing a stable planet in a system where four different stars are moving about can’t be easy.”

Planet Hunters’ astronomers sift through data on more than 150,000 stars collected by the NASA Kepler space mission. Specifically, they look for small changes in light emanating from stars when a possible planet crosses the star’s path.

Astronomers Robert Gagliano and Kian Jek poured over the data and noticed anomalies that confirmed the existence of PH1.

On the Planet Hunters website, the group refers to PH1 as its own “Tatooine,” a reference to a planet in the movie Star Wars, which famously depicted two setting suns.

The research paper about PH1’s discovery was submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Monday at the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Reno, Nevada.

"I celebrate this discovery for the wow-factor of a planet in a four-star system," said Natalie Batalha, a Kepler scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California in a release. "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."

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: andrewborovskikh@gmail.co
October 17, 2012 11:38 AM
It is a very interesting topic. This is what makes a human HUMAN. Only when a human realizes that the every-day rat race they participate in is not their destination, they become HUMAN. Try reading such a stardust story before going to sleep, and you are going to dream wonderful wool-gathering stardust dreams. What a good entertainment! Worse luck, I increasingly fear such stories and such dreams. I fear the stardust in my eyes. We are so steeped in the rat race, that every time you peel off the crowd, you experience some kind of a panic attack like if you’ll be able to catch up with the others in the daily routine we are so engaged in. Insurance coverage, rainy-day savings, refresher courses, career trainings, bank accounts, stocks and shares... Bye, everybody, I must be trotting...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More