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Amateur Team Finds 'Tatooine' Planet with 2 Suns in 4-Star S
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October 15, 2012 - 8:58 pm
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Amateur Team Finds 'Tatooine' Planet with 2 Suns in 4-Star System

By Jeanna Bryner | SPACE.com – 2 hrs 53 mins ago

Amateur astronomers have helped discover an alien planet with two suns and a twinkling twist: The entire twin-sun setup, a real-life version of Tatooine from "Star Wars," is orbited by two more stars — a solar system that is the first of its kind known.

The alien planet, called PH1, is a gas giant planet slightly bigger than Neptune. Its discovery in the midst of a strange, four-star planetary system is the first confirmed world discovered as part of the Yale University-led Planet Hunters project, in which armchair astronomers work with professional scientists to find evidence of new worlds in the bountiful data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope.

"Planet Hunters is a symbiotic project, pairing the discovery power of the people with follow-up by a team of astronomers," said Debra Fischer, a professor of astronomy at Yale and planet expert who helped launch Planet Hunters in 2010, in a statement. "This unique system might have been entirely missed if not for the sharp eyes of the public."

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