Four-Star System Paints Beautiful Starlit Sky

The newfound star system known as 30 Ari contains four stars, resulting in a unique orbit for all the planets involved, and generating an image of a four-starlit sky. Now, scientists interested in the effects of multiple stars on planets and orbits have a brand new subject for study.

Fans of the popular “Star Wars” movies are undoubtedly familiar with the beautiful Tatooine sunsets. A sunset from a planet in the 30 Ari system could be expected to flaunt double the sunsets of the fictional planet. The discovery of this rather large and complex system suggests that such systems are not nearly as rare as once thought. With observation methods rapidly improving, celestial rarities such as this are more readily found by astronomers.

These systems sually feature two sets of twin stars orbiting about one another, with planets caught up somewhere in all the gravitational clutter. Rather surprisingly, this planetary system isn’t far from home, as it lays only about 136 lightyears from Earth. If one could view the sky from a planet in this system, scientists say he or she would see a small sun somewhere in the sky, along with two smaller stars, bright enough to be seen in daylight. Looking at one of those smaller stars through a telescope would show that the seemingly single star is actually a binary system consisting of twin stars. However, astronomers do not think any planet in this system could sustain life in any form we understand, due to the planets closeness or distance from the stars.

The 30 Ari system also contains an absolutely massive, hot gas planet that’s about ten times the size of Jupiter and far closer to its parent star. This gas planet reportedly orbits its sun in only three days, meaning it is extremely close and can move extremely quickly through space. Astronomers claim that this further solidifies the correlation between multiple-star systems and massive planets.

30 Ari is known to contain three stars already; the discovery of the fourth being very recent, and posing some difficult questions. Namely, the fourth star does not appear to affect the orbit of the gaseous planet, a peculiar phenomenon that has many NASA employees and affiliates scratching their heads. Scientists hope that further study of this system and others like it will yield important information on the formation of planets as related to their parent stars, and on the orbital effects multiple stars have on such planets existing in these not-as-rare-as-once-thought systems.

No matter what information this discovery yields, it undoubtedly brings to mind an intriguing image of a star-speckled daytime sky and the confounding physics in space. The lead author of new findings appearing in the Astronomical Journal. Lewis Roberts was quoted as saying, in perfect summation, “It’s amazing how nature puts these things together.”