Astronomers Find Planet Residing in a Quadruple Star System

Posted on March 6, 2015

6-27Astronomers have found a planet residing in a quadruple star system. The planet was originally thought to have three stars. An artist's conception of the 30 Ari system, which has four stars and one gas giant planet, is pictured above. The planet orbits the primary star, which is pictured in yellow.

The primary star, 30 Ari B, has a small red dwarf companion located in the upper left. These two stars are locked into an orbit with the pair of stars pictured in the upper right. The four star system was discovered by researchers using instruments at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, Calif.

This is only the second time a planet has been identified in a quadruple star system. The first four-star planet, KIC 4862625, was reported in 2013. It was discovered citizen planet hunters through the Planet Hunters citizen science project using data publicly available from NASA's Kepler mission.

Lewis Roberts of JPL, lead author of the new findings appearing in the journal Astronomical Journal says in a statement, "Star systems come in myriad forms. There can be single stars, binary stars, triple stars, even quintuple star systems. It's amazing the way nature puts these things together."

Andrei Tokovinin of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, a co-author of the study, says that four percent of solar-type stars are estimated to be in quadruple systems.

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