Space & Astronomy
Astronomers find distant planet with 3 suns
July 8, 2016 | 10 comments
This distant world sees numerous sunrises and sunsets. Image Credit: ESO / L. Calcada
The newly discovered exoplanet experiences days lasting up to 140 Earth-years thanks to its trio of suns.
Known as HD 131399Ab, this distant gas giant can be found in the constellation Centaurus and is situated within an unusual three-star system approximately 340 light years from the Earth.
The planet itself orbits the largest of the three stars while its two smaller neighbors ensure a unique array of sunrises and sunsets as well as individual seasons lasting for hundreds of years.
"For about half of the planet's orbit, which lasts 550 Earth-years, three stars are visible in the sky, the fainter two always much closer together, and changing in apparent separation from the brightest star throughout the year," said PhD student Kevin Wagner.
"For much of the planet's year the stars appear close together, giving it a familiar night-side and day-side with a unique triple-sunset and sunrise each day."
"As the planet orbits and the stars grow further apart each day, they reach a point where the setting of one coincides with the rising of the other -- at which point the planet is in near-constant daytime for about one-quarter of its orbit, or roughly 140 Earth-years."
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