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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid