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Thread: Solar System's "Look-Alike" Found

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Solar System's "Look-Alike" Found

    Solar System's 'look-alike' found
    Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star which looks much like our own.

    By Paul Rincon
    Science reporter, BBC News, Belfast

    They found two planets that were close matches for Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a star about half the size of our Sun.

    Martin Dominik, from the St Andrews University, UK, said the finding suggested systems like our own could be much more common than we thought.

    And he told a major meeting that astronomers were on the brink of finding many more of them.

    The St Andrews researcher said this planetary system, and others like it, could host terrestrial planets like Earth. It was just a matter of time before such worlds were detected, he explained.

    Dr Dominik told BBC News: "We found a system with two planets that take the roles of Jupiter and Saturn in our Solar System. These two planets have a similar mass ratio and similar orbital radius and a similar orbital period.

    "It looks like this may have formed in a similar way to our Solar System. And if this is the case, it looks like [our] Solar System cannot be unique in the Universe. There should be other similar systems out there which could host terrestrial planets."

    Dr Dominik presented his work at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast.

    Ultimate goal
    The newfound planetary system, which orbits the star OGLE-2006-BLG-109L, is more compact than our own and is about five thousand light-years away.

    Although nearly 300 extrasolar planets have been identified, astronomers have consistently failed to find planetary systems which resemble our own. Dr Dominik said only 10% of systems discovered so far are known to host more than one planet.

    But he explained that all the techniques currently used to find exoplanets were strongly biased towards detecting gas giant planets orbiting at short distances from their parent stars.

    The OGLE planets were found using a technique called gravitational micro-lensing, in which light from the faraway planets is bent and magnified by the gravity of a foreground object, in this case a another star.

    "It's a kind of scaled-down version of our Solar System. The star the planets are orbiting is half as massive as the Sun and they orbit half as distant to their host star as Jupiter and Saturn orbit around the Sun," said Dr Dominik.

    He said that the ultimate goal for exoplanet researchers was to find habitable Earth-like and Mars-like planets. This aim was achievable, he said, because technology was improving all the time.

    "I think it will happen quite soon," he said, adding: "Micro-lensing can already go below Earth mass and it has detected more massive planets in the habitable zone. So in the next few years, we will see something really exciting."

    Dr Dominik said there was competition between teams of astronomers using micro-lensing and those who favoured the transit technique, which seeks to detect new planets when, from our point of view, they pass directly in front of the parent star they are orbiting. The planet blocks a tiny fraction of the star's light, causing the star to periodically dim.

    But he added that there was little chance to detect Earth-like worlds in OGLE-2006-BLG-109L because the system was too distant for current techniques to resolve planets the size of our own.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    beltman713 Guest

  3. #3
    WhiteGuySaysThis Guest
    Cool indeed. I love reading about this type of shit.

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    YouCrazyDiamond Guest

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