CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA/WASHINGTON – Astronomers have discovered a planet unlike any other ever found, one that loops widely around one star that is locked in a gravitational embrace with two others in a triple-star system, creating a curious celestial ballet. The findings, published Thursday in the journal Science, challenge current notions about what makes a planetary system viable. With three stars in the system, the massive planet would experience triple sunrises and triple sunsets during one season and all daylight in another. Since the planet's orbit is very long, each season lasts for hundreds of years. "Depending on which season you were born in, you may never know what nighttime is like," lead researcher Kevin Wagner of the University of Arizona said.
You may think Luke Skywalker's fictitious home planet of Tatooine with two suns was strange. But now astronomers have discovered a planet with three suns 340 light-years from Earth that they say is unlike any other known world. There, you would either experience constant daylight or enjoy triple sunrises and sunsets each day, depending on the seasons, which last longer than human lifetimes. Astronomers have found a distant planet that orbits around three suns - taking 550 years. The strange world snappily named HD 131399Ab is some 340 light years from Earth.
This is the first time astronomers have spotted an exoplanet orbiting within a three-star system. An artist's conception shows a view of the triple-star system HD 131399 from close to the giant planet orbiting in the system. The planet is known as HD 131399Ab and appears at the lower-left of the image. Don't forget the sunscreen on planet HD 131399Ab: It has three suns. The far-off planet, located about 320 light years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus, is unlike any other known world, scientists say.
Mysteries of distant solar systems will never cease to amaze us. When we still ponder over what lies beyond our very own Milky Way galaxy, astronomers have discovered a strange planet that would make Luke Skywalker's Tatooine look behind the times. Unlike Skywalker's home planet, which had two suns in the sky, the newly identified world orbits a three-star system. Dubbed "HD 131399Ab," the planet has been discovered by a team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona in Tucson, using direct imaging. The planet travels around its central sun in an orbit twice as large as Pluto's, which makes it by far the widest known exoplanet with a multi-star system.
This exoplanet is part of a triple star system, sits further away from its parent star than Pluto, and is four times larger than Jupiter. Imagine a planet, like Jupiter, but four times heavier. And it's got a huge orbit, maybe twice as wide as Pluto's. Oh, and it has three suns. That planet is real, and it's only 320 light years away.