Super-Size Planet Actually Orbits FOUR Suns

Did you know that some planetary systems have more than one sun and that they are actually very common? There are cases of systems with as many as five suns, and astronomers have just found another system that is a quadruple sun system with planets that travel around them.

Astronomers spotted the four stars in a planetary system named 30 Ari. This is the second known four sun system with planets, but many cases of two and three suns with planets are known to exist. The planetary system of 30 Ari is 136 light years from our own sun and is located in the Aries constellation.

Astronomers identified a large planet 10 times the size of Jupiter back in 2009, but it was thought to have only three stars. A fourth sun has now been discovered. This giant planet circles the four suns on its own adventure about every 335 days, which is slightly shorter than Earth’s year of 365 days.

Astronomers at NASA used their new “Robo-AO” adaptive optics system, located at the Palomar Observatory in California to search the sky, which is how they found that this planetary system had four suns. The discovery of the fourth sun in the group showed that it circles one of the other suns once every 80 years.

If you lived on the known planet in this four sun system you would only be able to see one of the suns close in the sky, with two others showing up as bright stars in the daytime. You would need a telescope to find out that there is actually a fourth sun in your sky that is on its own adventure around one of the others as a binary pair of stars.

This huge discovery is only the second time astronomers have found a planet in a four-sun solar system. In 2012, someone discovered what was believed to be the first planet in a four sun system and it is called Ph1b or Kepler 64b.

Two star or binary systems are a lot more common than our own single sun planetary system, but scientists predict that astronomers will find more systems with four suns that are actually those with two sets of binary stars. It is estimated that around four percent of these star systems have four suns. A solar system near to this new four-sun system has three suns with at least one planet. This system is called HD 2638, and the known planet in it is about half the size of Jupiter and goes around its star very fast, as its travel only lasts 3.4 days.