- Locker Room
||10-17-2012 09:01 AM
Move over, Tatooine! Amateurs discover planet with four suns
Amazing... internet astronomers. :mg:
(CNN) -- Thirty-five years ago, a scene in the first "Star Wars" film captivated movie-goers: Luke Skywalker peering across the landscape of Tatooine -- a desert planet dominated by a pair of setting suns.
This week, reality trumped (science) fiction with an image even more enthralling: two amateur astronomers poring through data from deep, distant skies and discovering a planet with four suns.
NASA's website calls the phenomenon a circumbinary planet, or a planet that orbits two suns.
Rare enough on its own -- only six other circumbinary planets are known to exist -- this planet is orbited by two more distant stars, making it the first known quadruple sun system.
Researchers presented the finding Monday night at the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Reno, Nevada.
The discovery of the four-sun planet by amateur scientists takes crowd sourcing to new heights. The expression, coined by Wired magazine editor Jeff Howe, describes tasks that are outsourced to a disparate group of people to come up with a solution.
In this case, the Planet Hunters group made data from NASA's $600 million Kepler telescope available to the public through its website and coordinates their findings with Yale astronomers.
In combing through the data, "Citizen scientists" Robert Gagliano and Kian Jek spied anomalies that confirmed the existence of the special planet, now known as PH1 -- short for Planet Hunters 1 -- the first heavenly body found by the online citizen science project.
The planet is a little bigger than Neptune, with a radius about six times greater than Earth.
"I celebrate this discovery for the wow-factor of a planet in a four-star system," said Natalie Batalha, a Kepler scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California.
"Most importantly, I celebrate this discovery as the fruit of exemplary human cooperation -- cooperation between scientists and citizens who give of themselves for the love of stars, knowledge, and exploration."
Before we know it, the Steelers will start outsourcing personell decisions to all the couch scouts and executives on steelersfever.com :applaudit:
||10-18-2012 10:18 PM
Re: Move over, Tatooine! Amateurs discover planet with four suns
Earth-sized planet found just outside solar system
WASHINGTON (AP) — European astronomers say that just outside our solar system they've found a planet that's the closest you can get to Earth in location and size.
It is the type of planet they've been searching for across the Milky Way galaxy and they found it circling a star right next door — 25 trillion miles away. But the Earth-like planet is so hot its surface may be like molten lava. Life cannot survive the 2,200 degree heat of the planet, so close to its star that it circles it every few days.
The astronomers who found it say it's likely there are other planets circling the same star, a little farther away where it may be cool enough for water and life.
And those planets might fit the not-too-hot, not-too-cold description sometimes call the Goldilocks Zone.
That means that in thestar system Alpha Centauri B, a just-right planet could be closer than astronomers had once imagined.
It's so close that from some southern places on Earth, you can see Alpha Centauri B in the night sky without a telescope.
I see you...
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