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Researchers discover planet with four suns

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Star Transit Planet Hunters
Star Transit Planet Hunters

Researchers believe they've found a first: a planet with four suns. Discovered by Kian Jek and Robert Gagliano, members of the crowdsourced astronomy site Planet Hunters, the planet revolves around a pair of suns, with another pair of stars orbiting them. The planet — confirmed by the Keck telescopes in Hawaii — is less than 5,000 light years away and over six times the size of Earth.

Planet Hunters provides users with data captured by the Kepler space telescope, allowing them to search for variances that may indicate the existence of previously-undiscovered planets. Because it's the first confirmed planet discovered using the site, scientists have named the new planet PH1.

University of Oxford's Dr. Chris Lintott told BBC News that the planet is able to maintain a consistent orbit, despite experiencing the gravitational pull of all four stars. "That's really confusing, which is one of the things which makes this discovery so fun," Lintott said. "It's absolutely not what we would have expected." A paper describing the discovery has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal and is currently awaiting peer review.