340 light years from earth, there’s a planet with three suns. The discovery of distant solar systems with multiple stars is nothing new (NASA says that they’re “just as common as single stars”), but typically these are only binary systems. Sadly, with the mass of four Jupiters and with a temperature of 1,070 degrees Farenheit (approximately?), this planet will never be habitable, as much as we may all want to see a triple sunrise.
This video gives a good demonstration of what a triple-star system would look like. There’s no sound (at least, there wasn’t for me), but it show how these bizarre orbits work.
According to the official NASA report on this system: “‘[f]or 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 Kevin Wagner, a doctoral student in Apai’s research group and the paper’s first author, who discovered HD 131399Ab. ‘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 farther 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.'”
Credit for all pictures and video in this post goes to European Southern Observatory/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser