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Earth-size planet found

October 17, 2012

A new planet, right, has been discovered orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B [The European Southern Observatory, via AP]

Earth-size planet found orbiting nearest star

European astronomers have reported they had detected a planet with similar mass to Earth, orbiting the closest star to the Sun.

The observation breaks new ground in the hunt for exoplanets – worlds that exist in other solar systems – although the planet itself is not “another Earth” as it is located in a scorchingly hot zone, astronomers said on Wednesday.

The planet swings close to the star Alpha Centauri B, one of a triple star system that is 4.3 light years away, which in cosmic terms is just next door to us.

The find was made thanks to a telltale wobble in the star’s motion, tugged by the gravitational pull of the passing planet.

The signal is “tiny but real”, said Xavier Dumusque of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland.

*First planet with four suns discovered

An international team of astronomers have announced the discovery of a planet whose skies are illuminated by four suns – the first known of its type.

The planet, located about 5,000 light years from Earth, has been dubbed PH1 in honour of Planet Hunters, a programme led by Yale University in the United States which enlists volunteers to look for signs of new planets.

PH1 is orbiting two suns, and in turn is orbited by a second distant pair of stars. Only six planets are known to orbit two stars, researchers say, and none of those are orbited by other distant stars.

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One comment

  1. http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1241/



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