Amateur “Citizen Scientists” Discover a Planet with Four Suns
May The Force Be With You
Two suns? Pssht. That’s for lameazoid sand planets like Tatooine. Recently discovered planet PH-1 (for the purposes of this article I will refer to it as “Tatooine Squared”) has four suns—and, even better, it was discovered by amateur planet hunters.
Tatooine Squared (what, you thought I wasn’t serious about calling it that?) is about 5,000 light years away and has a diameter approximately half that of Jupiter. The planet, like Tatooine, orbits a binary star, or two stars that orbit each other… but that binary star pair orbits a binary star pair of its own. So: Four suns. The new planet, likely a gas giant and certainly uninhabitable for anything resembling human life (its cloud top temperature is over 800° F), was discovered by Kian Jek and Robert Gagliano, members of Planet Hunters, an organization that invites “citizen scientists” to sift through data compiled by NASA to find “transit events” that might indicate the presence of an undiscovered planet.
This is the first time a four-star system has been found, and the fact that it was found by amateurs—well, that makes it even cooler. Tatooine Squared, a planet that’s a giant diamond… man, the universe is awesome. Who’s going to find Magrathea?
(via: Discover Magazine)
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