Amateur astronomers have helped discover an alien planet with two stars, being orbited by two more. The planet, called PH1, looks much like Tatooine from Star Wars, although the fact that the system contains four stars is something astronomers have never seen.
PH1 is slightly larger than Neptune and its discovery in the middle of a four-star planetary system is the first confirmed world like it, reports Space.com.
The discovery of the planet with two stars was made during the Yale University-led Planet Hunters project, which allows armchair astronomers to work with professional scientists to find new worlds in the sometimes overwhelming data collected by NASA’s Kepler telescope. Debra Fischer, a professor of astronomy at Yale and planet expert who helped launch Planet Hunters in 2010, stated:
“Planet Hunters is a symbiotic project, pairing the discovery power of the people with follow-up by a team of astronomers. This unique system might have been entirely missed if not for the sharp eyes of the public.”
Since the Planet Hunters group first discovered PH1, its existence has been confirmed by a team of professional astronomers, who presented their work at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Reno, Nevada on Monday.
The Examiner notes that Meg Schwamb, another astronomer and Planet Hunters scientists, stated at the meeting on Monday:
“Circumbinary planets are the extremes of planet formation. The discovery of these systems is forcing us to go back to the drawing board to understand how such planets can assemble and evolve in these dynamically challenging environments.”
The planet with two stars, PH1, was named after the Planet Hunters website and is located less than 5,000 light years away from Earth. The gas giant, which is slightly larger than Neptune, is more than six times the size of Earth.
How would you like to live on a planet that is orbiting around two stars, with two additional ones orbiting around it?