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 user 2007-11-07 at 11:25:00 am Views: 39
  • #21110

    Astronomers discover new planet
    in the US say they have found a new planet in orbit around a star 41
    light years from Earth.The discovery brings to five the number of
    planets orbiting the star, 55 Cancri, the most found to date in a
    single solar system outside our own.Astronomers have found more than
    250 planets outside our own solar system – the team behind the latest
    discovery have found more than anyone else.The new planet is a gas
    planet about 45 times the mass of the Earth.Their latest find is a
    fifth planet to add to the four they had already discovered around 55
    Cancri, a double or binary star in the constellation of Cancer.

    Gas giant
    the new planet, which has mild surface temperatures, has a rocky moon
    or moons around it, say the astronomers, then theoretically they could
    support liquid water.But it is the bigger picture that is really
    intriguing these planet hunters.

    They say this quintuple planet system has many similarities to our own.
    planets orbit a star which is similar in age and mass to our own Sun
    and the system also boasts its own gas giant – a planet four times the
    mass of our own Jupiter in a similar orbit to Jupiter.What they have
    not yet found is a rocky planet like the Earth or Venus, but according
    to Professor Geoff Marcy, of the University of California, Berkeley,
    who led the work, that may only be a question of time and
    technology.”There is an intriguing, mysterious gap between the fourth
    planet out around 55 Cancri and the Jupiter-like planet that’s far
    away,” he says.”In that gap, we don’t know what there is. Our current
    technology would be able to detect big planets like Neptune, Saturn and
    Jupiter. We don’t see any of them.”So if there are any planets there,
    they must be smaller, the size of the Earth.”In fact, it’s a little
    hard to imagine that there’s just nothing there in this big gap. So the
    suggestion is there might be small rocky planets, like Venus, Mars or
    Earth.”Of course, none of these planets can actually be seen – the
    astronomers use tiny wobbles in the movement of the star to detect the
    presence of planets tugging on the star as they encircle it.But you can
    see the star itself – 55 Cancri – easily, with only a pair of
    binoculars, at the right time of year and with a clear night sky.