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Multi Star Solar Systems

  1. Jan 21, 2005 #1
    Is anyone know if there exists any solar systems with more than three stars? If so, does anyone know what the largest amount of stars a solar system is known to have?
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  3. Jan 21, 2005 #2


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    The Orion Nebula (M42) has a four star system.


    So are h5188 , Lac. 8, Lac. Roe 47, Cygnus a 2658, and another four star system in Orion.

    Lyr. Epislon and Capricorn Alpha are double-doubles.

    See ftp://nic.funet.fi/pub/astro/dbases/stars/multistr.txt
    See also http://ad.usno.navy.mil/wds/dsl.html and http://sunra.lbl.gov/~vhoette/Explorations/BinaryStars/

    Wikipedia claims that there are some systems with up to eight stars:
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2005
  4. Jan 21, 2005 #3


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    The picture gets a little blurry as you add more stars. There is no particular criteria for differentiating a system from a cluster. Globula clusters are gravitational bound systems that can include millions of stars. I'm curious though, in using the term solar system I had the impression you were asking whether planetary systems are known to occur in multiple star systems. Far as I know, a few are suspected in binary star systems, but not beyond that. It is not easy for a low mass object like a planet to occupy a stable orbit in a binary star system. Having two stars is bad enough, more than two would be a computational nightmare.
  5. Jan 21, 2005 #4
    Thanks very much for the responses. I mean to imply, as planetary system with more than 3 stars. I got to thinking about it on the bus home, how beautiful sunrises and sunsets could be in such a system. Then got to thinking, should there be such a system with many stars, the planet surrounding it may go long periods of time without ever experiencing a night.
  6. Jan 24, 2005 #5


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    There is a science fiction novel, IIRC, Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury, that has a planet in a five star system, that engages in that kind of imaginary exploration.
  7. Jan 25, 2005 #6


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    Some four star systems consist of two binary systems orbiting each other. May be this could be a stable configuration for planetary orbits...?
  8. Jan 26, 2005 #7
    so why dont call this type of system a chaotic one?
  9. Jan 26, 2005 #8


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    Of course, the main reason we have little data on this is that we couldn't see most of them if they were there, and the fact that multiple star systems are less frequent than binary and single star systems reduces the number of opportunities we have near us where there is some hope of seeing one.

    I don't see any inherent reason you shouldn't be able to have planets in a system with three or more stars. For example, suppose you had one very big star (a red giant maybe) and perhaps three smallish dwarf stars. They could easily have stable orbits with respect to each other similar to the Sun-Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune system. Basically, it could have orbits similar to our own system with every object in it put on steroids. Each star would have "moons" and voila, you have a nice happy family of planets, although instead easier to observe gas giants, they would probably be mostly the rocky small kind that are hard to see with telescopes.

    From the point of view of a planet circling one of the dwarf stars, you would have a dim "sun" and then three relatively "moons" (which might be pretty dim at appropriate distances) that were almost always bright instead of going through phases.
  10. Mar 11, 2005 #9
    Issac Assimov wrote an amazing short story about just that kind of system. It tells of what happened when darkness finally comes after 2000 years of light.
  11. Mar 31, 2005 #10

    Or the utter lack thereof.
  12. Mar 31, 2005 #11


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    "I got to thinking about it on the bus home, how beautiful sunrises and sunsets could be in such a system. "

    "Or the utter lack thereof."

    That's a good point. Actually, multi-star systems would have less spectacular sunrise/sunsets because they would be diluted. (like using too many lights on a stage, the dramatic effect is diminished - you just get lots of white light).

    Speaking of spectacular sights in our system as compared to others, I recall a story where Earth was a tourist attraction for other other space-faring races becasue we could experience a very rare solar eclipse with visible corona as well as the 'ring of fire'. It is just our luck that our moon has almost exactly the same apparent diameter as our sun.
  13. Apr 1, 2005 #12


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    That's Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall".
  14. Apr 17, 2005 #13
    I can improve this cipher :approve: . Capella is a multiple star system containing at least 9 stars, according to this page

  15. Apr 23, 2005 #14
    I have searched extensively the web, and the multiple star system with a major number of stars that I've found is 41 Ori, with 12 stars
    If anybody find other system with a greater number of stars I'll eat my hat
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