Forget the twin suns of Tatooine. Newly-discovered planet KELT-4Ab has three! The views would be pretty amazing, as the artist concept of a similar three-sun planet, HD 1885 Ab, shows above, but the way they all work together is absolutely fascinating. Gizmodo spoke to Jason Eastman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the lead author of the Astronomical Journal paper on KELT-4Ab to find out what a resident of the planet would see.
“You’d see the primary star about the size of your outstretched, splayed hand (about 40x the apparent size of our Sun),” he said. “Your year and day would be the same: 3 Earth days, which means half of planet would be in continuous daylight and the other half would be in continuous darkness.
“You’d also see two points of light about 2 degrees apart, each as bright as the full moon (KELT-4BC). Those two points would orbit each other every 30 Earth years, and every 4000 years, they’d make a complete orbit in the sky (that is, for 2000 years, they’d rise during the Summer and for 2000 years, they’d rise during the Winter).”
KELT-4Ab is a gas giant like Jupiter. As Eastman said above, it takes three days to orbit around its first sun KELT-A. The other two stars, KELT-B and C, are farther away and orbit one over the other over 30 years. According at Phys.org, KELT B and C would take around four thousand years to orbit KELT-A. So the view would be a sun about 40 times as big as our own and two dimmer, smaller ones about as bright as our moon.
The really cool thing about KELT-4Ab is that it’s a mere 210 parsecs away. That’s relatively close in terms of study. The other three-sun planets (there are only four total that we’ve discovered so far) are much farther away.
What do you think of the discovery? Are you as fascinated by this as we are or does every discovery just mess up old sci-fi movies and TV episodes for you? Tweet me/us @JennaBusch/@Nerdist and let us know.