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Astronomers discover exoplanet system with at least five planets

Posted on Wednesday, August 25 2010 @ 18:20:00 CEST by

Researchers using the European Southern Observatory (Eso) have discovered a star with at least five planets. The star is named HD 10180, it's located 127 lights year from Earth and so far it's the richest system of exoplanets ever found. The astronomers are confident that the system contains at least five Neptune-like planets, but there's strong evidence that there could be a total of seven planets, with one of these two additional planets being just 1.4 times the mass of the Earth, which would make it the lowest mass exoplanet yet discovered.
So far, the astronomers have picked up clear signals from five planets, along with two slightly "fuzzier" signals. One of these possible sixth and seventh planets was estimated to be just 1.4 times the mass of the Earth; if its presence in the system was confirmed, it would be the lowest mass exoplanet yet discovered.

It is also predicted to be very close to its host star - just 2% of the Earth-Sun distance, so one year on this planet would last only 1.2 Earth days.

Dr Lovis said he was 99% certain that this small planet was there.

"There are five signals that are really strong that we have no doubt, but we have another two with a 'false alarm' probability of 1%," he said.
More details at BBC News.



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