Astronomers Have Found Second Exoplanet With Four Parent Stars
With a motive of exploring the complexities of exoplanets (systems with multiple parent stars), researchers were doing a study recently, and on its course, they have discovered a massive exoplanet which has four stars. It is important to clarify here that this system, called 30 Ari, was found earlier but that time it was presumed that the system had three stars.
The discovery is, indeed, significant because previously it was believed that four-star planets are rare. In fact, there was only one known four-star exoplanet — KIC 4862625 discovered in 2013.
Researchers reached the truth about total number of stars of 30 Ari with the help of advanced instruments and telescopes. The observation was made at San Diego’s Palomar Observatory where the researchers, installed instruments on the top of telescopes. Instruments included the PALM-3000 which was taken from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech and the Robo-AO adaptive optics systems, which was developed by the California Institute of Technology and the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.
As I said, the discovery has crushed the notion of the rarity of planets in quadruple star system. Andrei Tokovinin, who is co-author of the study, explained this:
“About four percent of solar-type stars are in quadruple systems, which is up from previous estimates because observational techniques are steadily improving.”
Including some more facts about 30 Ari: it is located 136 light years away in the Aries constellation. The system has one huge gaseous planet which is ten times the mass of Jupiter and circles around its primary star every 335 days.
The primary star also has a partner star which, however, the planet does not orbit. This primary star has been confined (or rather locked) with another pair of stars. Their orbit is about 1670 times the distance between Earth and the sun (1670 astronomical units); one astronomical unit equals the distance between Earth and the sun.
If you could ever see the skies standing on Earth, the system would look like one big colossal sun with two radiant stars around it.
Apart from four-star planets, astronomer have also found two or three stars exoplanets lately. These findings have made researchers forecast the existence of many more parent stars.
“It’s amazing the way nature puts these things together,” said Lewis Roberts from JPL, the lead author for the study.