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Scientists find strange planet with three suns

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Scientists have announced the discovery of a strange planet in a faraway solar system that contains not just one sun, but three that rise in the morning and set at night.

The newfound planet is described Thursday in the journal Science.

The distant planet, named HD 131399Ab, appears even more unusual than the home planet of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, Tatooine, which orbited around two suns, according to the findings.

Such binary solar systems may be relatively common in the universe, but experts said those involving three stars or more were rare.

“Imagine this: a planet where you’d either experience constant daylight or enjoy triple sunrises and sunsets each day, depending on the seasons, which happen to last longer than human lifetimes,” a statement from the University of Arizona, which led the astronomy team, read.

The planet is located about 340 light years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus.

The cosmic body is believed to be relatively young, about 16 million years old, which makes it one of the youngest planets discovered outside our solar system to date.

Its mass is believed to be four times that of the gas giant Jupiter — our solar system’s largest planet.

It orbits the brightest of the three stars on a very long and wide path.

“For about half of the planet’s orbit, which lasts 550 Earth-years, three stars are visible in the sky — the fainter two always much closer together and changing in apparent separation from the brightest star throughout the year,” first author Kevin Wagner, a first-year PhD student who discovered HD 131399Ab, said.

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“For much of the planet’s year, the stars appear close together, giving it a familiar night-side and day-side with a unique triple-sunset and sunrise each day,” Mr Wagner added.

“As the planet orbits and the stars grow further apart each day, they reach a point where the setting of one coincides with the rising of the other.”

The result is “near-constant daytime for about one-quarter of its orbit, or roughly 140 Earth-years”.

The astronomy team spotted the planet using the SPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile.

SPHERE is one of the world’s most advanced instruments dedicated to finding planets around other stars.

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With AFP inputs

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Science & Technology

Boston Dynamics’ robot can open up doors and hold for others to enter

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Secretive robotics firm Boston Dynamics has posted a new video to its YouTube channe on Monday showing off its SpotMini robo-canine, in which he can be seen opening a door all on his own and hold until another enters the door.

In the 45-second video, titled ‘Hey Buddy, Can You Give Me a Hand?’ a SpotMini walks over to a door before realizing it can’t get through.

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Another SpotMini quickly comes to his rescue and extends his clawed arm, which he uses to grab the door handle.

The robot then grabs the handle, turns it, and pulls back the door. Using one of its front legs, the robot manages to hold open the door as the claw releases the handle and pens the door fully.

The SpotMini is seen holding open the door as his fellow robo-dog friend then casually walks through the door.

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