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July 7, 2016 02:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2016-31

A Surprising Planet with Three Suns

A News Nugget Release

July 7, 2016: A team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona has directly imaged with the SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope the first planet ever found in a wide orbit inside a triple-star system. The orbit of such a planet had been expected to be unstable, probably resulting in the planet being quickly ejected from the system. But somehow this one survives. This observation of the HD 131399 system suggests that such systems may actually be more common than previously thought. The results will be published online in the journal Science on July 7, 2016. The artist's impression shows a view of the triple-star system HD 131399 from the giant planet orbiting the system. The planet is HD 131399Ab and appears at the lower left of the picture.

For images and more information about HD 131399 and SPHERE, visit

Illustration Credit: NASA and ESO/L. Calçada

Science Credit: NASA, ESO, and K. Wagner (University of Arizona)