revolving around it

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
Astronomers have found a planet whose skies are illuminated by four different suns - the first known of its type.

The distant world orbits one pair of stars and has a second stellar pair revolving around it.
(BBC News; Planet with four suns discovered)

What does 'it' refer to?

My scarce astronomical knowledge argues that it most probably should be 'one pair of stars', but the way it is written counters, as it were, that it must be 'the distant world'.

Thanks.
 
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    It's grammatically somewhat murky, but I agree that "it" appears to refer to the distant world. This is corroborated further down in the article where it says:
    "But only a handful of known exoplanets (planets that circle other stars) have been found to orbit such binaries. And none of these are known to have another pair of stars circling them."
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    I don't find it at all ambiguous nor grammatically murky.

    "It" refers to "the distant world" -- that is, the planet they're referred to in the previous sentence, which is what the whole article is about. In other words, the planet revolves around two stars (suns) and then two stars (suns) revolve around that planet. Does that help?
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    radosna is right.
    We know that 'it' refers to the planet, because 'the distant world' is the implied subject of the clause containing 'it':

    '[the distant world] has a second stellar pair revolving around it'.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    radosna is right.
    We know that 'it' refers to the planet, because 'the distant world' is the implied subject of the clause containing 'it':

    '[the distant world] has a second stellar pair revolving around it'.
    Grammatically, that is what the sentence says. In terms of astrophysics, it's quite impossible.
     
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