Skip to comments.Planet hunters double down with FOUR-STAR SYSTEM
Posted on 10/16/2012 8:47:51 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
A group of amateur astronomers trawling through the vast store of data captured by the Kepler spacecraft has helped turned up a gem: a planet orbiting a double star, with another two stars in a more distant orbit.
The discovery was made by Planethunters.org which, led by Yale University, lets citizen scientists (arent scientists citizens? - Reg) comb through the data. The new discovery has since been confirmed by the professionals.
The circumbinary planet in a four-star system has been designated PH1, and hailed for its wow-factor by NASA Kepler scientist Natalie Batalha at Ames Research Centre. She also lauded the exemplary human cooperation cooperation between scientists and citizens who give of themselves for the love of stars, knowledge, and exploration.
So, what is PH1? Its probably a gas giant, at six times Earths radius its a little larger than Neptune, with a 137-day orbital period about the two stars at the centre of its system. The other binary pair is a long way out: around 1000 astronomical units AUs from the systems centre.
The Planethunters say its mass is more difficult to pin down: being in such a complicated system didnt help, but its no more than half the mass of Jupiter, making it certain that the object is a planet and not another star (since it wouldnt have enough mass to ignite).
The Planethunters blog post identifies Kian Jek and Robert Gagliano as having made the initial discovery, with transits of the planet observed by Hans Martin Schwengeler, Dr Johann Sejpka and Arvin Joseﬀ Tan.
In this post, Jek and Gagliano outline the discovery process.
The discovery has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal. ®
Finding them where we didn’t think they were possible a few years ago.
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Citizen Scientists Discover Four-Star Planet with NASA Kepler
Well that's something you don't hear everyday.