On the exoplanet KELT-4Ab, the sunset is wholly alien. The hot Jupiter’s star KELT A, which the exoplanet closely orbits, would appear 40 times brighter than the solar system’s sun from the exoplanet’s surface. But two other bright stars occupy the sky. KELT B and KELT C, which orbit KELT A, hang in the sky, shining as bright as the moon, according to research published The Astronomical Journal.
The study, published in February, makes the KELT system the fourth discovered to have a triple-star system. It’s located a mere 680 light-years from Earth, making it an ideal candidate for further study.
According to the researchers, KELT-4Ab, a gas giant, orbits KELT A every three days. The two orbiting stars complete an orbit around each other every 30 years, and fully orbit KELT A roughly every 4,000 years.
According to Space.com, the researchers used two robotic telescopes that make up the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT), one located in Arizona, the other in South Africa, to glimpse the star system. Jason Eastmam, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told the media outlet that while each of the stars orbiting KELT A would appear as bright as the moon, to the naked eye, they would be no more than dots in the sky.
While triple-star systems are rare, scientists reported glimpsing the formation of a multi-star system last year, according to redOrbit.com. The formation is occurring in a gas cloud roughly 800 light-years from Earth. The discovery team utilized New Mexico’s Very Large Array radio observatory, West Virginia’s Green Bank Telescope, and Hawaii’s James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. redOrbit.com reported the stars would condense in about 40,000 years.
Scientists behind the KELT discovery are hoping that further study may help astronomers understand how hot Jupiter’s form and orbit so closely to their host stars.
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