NASA’s astronomers have stated that they have discovered a planet in a four-star system called 30 Ari. This is only the second such system that has been found till date.
NASA has stated that the gas giant is 10 times more massive than Jupiter and located 136 light-years away in the constellation Aries. They added that it was known before, but it was thought to have only three stars, not four. However, the system’s fourth star was found using instruments fitted to telescopes at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego. Incidentally, the first four-star planet was discovered in 2013 by amateur scientists using public NASA data.
This is only the second time that a planet has been identified in a quadruple star system. The first four-star planet, KIC 4862625, was discovered in 2013 by citizen scientists using public data from NASA’s Kepler mission.
Andrei Tokovinin, astronomer at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, and one of the members who made the discovery, said, “About four percent of solar-type stars are in quadruple systems, which is up from previous estimates because observational techniques are steadily improving.”
The astronomers made the discovery at the Palomar Observatory using two new adaptive optics technologies that compensate for the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere: the robotic Robo-AO adaptive optics system, which was developed under the leadership of Dr. Christoph Baranec of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Institute for Astronomy, and the PALM-3000 extreme adaptive optics system, developed by a team at Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that also included Baranec.
According to the astronomers, 30 Ari is situated almost 140 light-years away from our own solar system in the constellation Aries. The system’s sole planet is a massive gas giant, which revolves around its main star every 335 days. The main star has a fairly close partner star, which the planet doesn’t orbit. This pair, in turn, is in a long-distance orbit with a different pair of stars nearly 1,700 times the distance between Earth and the sun away – or nearly 1,700 astronomical units (AU). Astronomers stated that it’s highly improbable that this planet, or any moons that may orbit it, could support life.