‘First of its kind’ triple star system likely gobbled up a 4th star

Artist’s interpretation of  the quadruple-star system HD 98800. the newly discovered triple star system, known as TIC 470710327, has a very similar structure except the outer pair of stars orbiting the central binary pair have merged into a single star. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

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Astronomers have detected a triple star system that is unlike any that has been seen before. The unusual trio of stars is much more massive and closely squeezed together than a typical triple system, which may be because the stellar triplets used to have a fourth sibling before one of the others gobbled it up.

The triple, or tertiary, star system is known as TIC 470710327 and was detected by researchers using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) observatory that’s orbiting Earth. The trio has a hierarchical structure, meaning a pair of binary stars circle one another at the center of the system, while a third star orbits the central pair. 

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