Written by IainB

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Astronomers applauded one another this week when the galaxy's first true quaternary star system was located.

Plenty of binary star systems are known, the most famous being Alpha Centauri: our solar system's closest relative. In a binary system either the two stars orbit one another around a common barycentre, or with one star orbiting the other.

There was elation in 2006 when astronomers looked more closely at Polaris, long believed to be a binary, it transpired it was ternary.

The latest discovery, using the catalogue name of HD98800 (proposed named: Craturis), is in the group of stars known as the Hydrae cluster. A long exposure by the Hubble space telescope has resolved two white dwarf stars orbiting one another as well as orbiting a larger pair of T Tauri yellow stars.

Xenobiologists do not believe that life would be possible in such a solar system, although astrophysicists believe they have located a planet in the system. Planets outside of our solar system have lost their media appeal in recent years, and even an artists impression of how the sky would appear failed to capture the public imagination.

There is a possible star system made up of six stars, Castor in the constellation of Gemini; current mathematical models seem to preclude five stars. However, in an effort to engage the public more, if the reader of this article believes that such a system is possible, please click the fifth 'star' below. Sufficient votes will raise the funding for a new mathematical model of star formation.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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Topics: Astronomy, Stars

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