SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Sun-worshipers listen up. Astronomers have discovered a giant planet with 3 suns in the sky. One sun shines 40 times brighter than ours. Imagine the sunsets!
The Jupiter-sized gas planet known as KELT-4Ab is part of a rare triple-star system 680 light years from Earth. Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discovered it and published their findings in the February issue of The Astronomical Journal.
Scientists first realized this ‘hot jupiter’ planet existed back in 1973, along with its largest star (KELT-A) and what they thought was a single star. That second star, however, turned out to be a binary pair (KELT-B and KELT-C) orbiting one another every 30 years. They shine about as bright as Earth’s full moon. It takes the small stars about 4000 years to orbit around the main star.
Scientists are fascinated by how close KELT-4Ab orbits its main star. The gas giant orbits KELT-A every three days and is getting roasted! The temperature on a ‘hot jupiter’ is literally thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers plan to observe and compare KELT-4Ab’s hot interaction with other similar ‘hot jupiter’ masses in hopes of better understanding existing theories about planet formation and evolution.