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Planet with four stars found

Amateur astronomers found a planet which is orbited by one pair of stars, with a second pair revolving around it.

Planet four stars found ph1 october 2012Enlarge
Amateur astronomers discovered a planet [not pictured] with two suns and two other stars orbiting it. The planet, a little larger than Neptune, has been named PH1. (NASA/AFP/Getty Images)

Amateur astronomers found a planet which captures the light of four stars in its skies, according to the BBC.

The alien planet, named PH1, orbits one pair of stars, while another pair revolve around it. Volunteers used Planethunters.org to make the discovery, along with a team of institutes from the United States and the United Kingdom.

The BBC said the planet is located a little under 5,000 light-years away and is thought to be a "gas giant" slightly larger than Neptune.

A team of professional astronomers confirmed the amateur discovery, and will present their work on Monday at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, according to Space.com.

More on GlobalPost: Dual stars found with multiple planets orbiting them

"The gassy planet spends 138 days completing a single orbit around its two parent stars, which have masses about 1.5 and 0.41 times that of the sun. The stars circle each other once every 20 days," reported Space.com.

"PH1′s binary pair parents are in turn orbited by another binary pair of stars at a distance 1,000 times that between the Earth and the sun," reported Wired magazine.

Wired compared the planet to the fictional planet of Tatooine from "Star Wars." The armchair astronomers behind the discovery were Kian Jek of San Francisco and Robert Gagliano of Cottonwood, Arizona.

The discovery of the one-of-a-kind four-star planetary system was gleaned from data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope.

Planet Hunters was a Yale University-led project which was launched in 2010, allowing amateur astronomers to access data and look for patterns. The BBC said more than 170,000 members of the public have participated in the project since its inception.

NASA and Yale University also confirmed the discovery.

More on GlobalPost: Double-sun "Star Wars" planet discovered by NASA

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/121015/planet-four-stars-found-tatooine