Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Four-Sun Planetary Find

Yesterday night, researchers meeting in Reno, Nevada, at the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society presented their discovery of a four-sun planet.  A circumbinary planet is one that orbits two suns.  Only six other circumbinary planets are known to exist.  "Citizen scientists" Robert Gagliano and Kian Jek combed through data from NASA's $600 million Kepler telescope and coordinated their findings with Yale astronomers to find the first known quadruple-sun system.  This rare planet is a little bigger than Neptune, with a radius about six times greater than Earth.  It is now known as PH1 (short for Planet Hunters 1), taking its name from the online citizen science project behind its discovery.

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