Citizen scientists discover a distant solar system

Artist's depiction of the five confirmed planets in the K-138 system, orbiting their star
Artist's illustration of the K-138 system, which was discovered by citizen scientists. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / R. Hurt (IPAC)

Citizen scientists have discovered a five-planet system orbiting a distant star known as K2-138, astronomers reported Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society and in a preprint posted online.

Why it’s cool: Like the planets around the star Trappist-1, K2-138's orbiters are resonant. That means the length of the planet’s years relate to each other in whole-number ratios. K2-138 is like Trappist-1 in another way: it's one of the few resonant systems whose orbital patterns can create a song when assigned tones.