Exoplanet has three suns and takes 550 years for a single orbit

Scientists have discovered an exoplanet far, far from the Earth that has a unique solar system. The planet is called HD 131399Ab and it is dubbed the widest ranging exoplanet in a mutli star system. That is a fancy way of saying that this planet lives in a solar system where there are three suns and it has a massive orbit. How massive is that orbit you ask- about 500 times larger than the Earth's.

Whereas the Earth orbits the sun in 365 days, this exoplanet takes about 550 years to orbit its star one time. Data suggests that the planet is a gas giant and orbits the brightest of the three stars, which is about 1.8 times the mass of the Sun. The other two stars in the exoplanet's system are around 45 to 60 billion kilometers away and orbit each other very quickly.

The exoplanet and its unique solar system lie about 320 light-years from the Earth. Measurements taken by scientists here on Earth suggest that the atmosphere of the exoplanet contains water vapor and methane. The cloud tops are estimated to be about 577C.

The team of researchers isn't sure where the gas giant formed, they believe it may have formed closer to the main star in the system and then migrated outward to its current location. It might have also been formed around the smaller pair of stars before being ejected and orbiting the more distant and brighter star. To put the massive distances in perspective a bit, the scientists say that the exoplanet orbits it's star at a distance about twice as far as Pluto is from our sun. I can't help but wonder how the planet can be that distant from its parent star, yet have clouds that are so incredibly hot.

SOURCE: Sciencemag