Friday, April 10, 2015

30 ARI - or is it Tatooine?



30 Ari is just such a system. Previously thought to be rare, the number of Sun systems with four stars just doubled. That is misleading – it was one now there are two of them. Still, if you imagine it – looking up into the day sky and seeing your Sun and two stars visible in the daylight. Cool, right?


In the constellation Aries a full 136 light years from one of its Sun’s (it orbits its primary star every 335 days) is a giant planet that is approximately 10 times the size of Jupiter. The second pair of stars in this system are rather distant, about 1670 AU (Astronomical Units – distance between the Earth & the Sun).


So pictured in the diagram below is the 30 Ari system. A diagram of the newfound system show the two pairs of stars in orbit together, while a planet circles one of them.



Granted the observer from a spacecraft would at first not be so surprised as this is far from the first time a multiple star system has been located (more the rule than the exception) and while it is not the first time a four star system has been located, the system wouldn’t appear to have for stars – not at first.

The discovery marks just the second time a planet has been identified in a four-star system and was made by a citizen scientist. The first four-star planet, PH1b or Kepler-64b, was spotted in 2012 also by citizen scientists using publicly available data from NASA’s Kepler mission.

Sci Fi has become Sci Reality as a number of planets that resemble Tatooine (Luke Skywalker’s home planet in Star Wars) have been located.


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