Planet-Hunters Make Biggest Find Yet: Vast New Solar System

Up to 7 planets spotted orbiting distant star
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2010 2:27 AM CDT
Planet-Hunters Make Biggest Find Yet: Vast New Solar System
HD 1080, a star much like our sun, is 127 light years away.   (L. Calcada/ESO/AP)

Astronomers have discovered the most planet-rich solar system outside our own ever discovered. At least five, and possibly seven, planets orbit a star 127 light years away called HD 10180. Researchers say they have clearly detected five Neptune-like planets and signs of two smaller ones. One is just 1.4 times the size of Earth, which would make it the smallest exoplanet ever discovered, the Telegraph reports.

The Earth-sized planet would be an unlikely place to find life, astronomers say, as it orbits so close to its sun that its year doesn't last much longer than an Earth day. The discovery, made by detecting tell-tale wobbles in the star's motion, "highlights the fact that we are now entering a new era in exoplanet research—the study of complex planetary systems and not just of individual planets," the lead researcher tells the BBC.
(More astronomer stories.)

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