Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Say Hi to our cousins

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The planetary system around the Sun-like star HD 10180 (artist’s impression)

 "This artist’s impression shows the remarkable planetary system around the Sun-like star HD 10180. 
Observations with the HARPS spectrograph, attached to ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, Chile, have revealed the definite presence of five planets and evidence for two more in orbit around this star. 
This system is similar to the Solar System in terms of number of planets and the presence of a regular pattern in the sizes of the orbits. 
If confirmed the closest planet detected would be the lightest yet known outside the Solar System, with a mass that could be only about 1.4 times that of the Earth."

"We have found what is most likely the system with the most planets yet discovered," says Christophe Lovis, lead author of the paper reporting the result.
"This remarkable discovery also 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. Studies of planetary motions in the new system reveal complex gravitational interactions between the planets and give us insights into the long-term evolution of the system."

Seven planets orbiting a Sun-like star 

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Wide-field view of the sky around the star HD 10180

Close-up view of the sky around the star HD 10180

This image shows a close-up of the sky around the star HD 10180. The picture was created from photographs taken through red and blue filters and forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. 
The field of view is approximately eleven arcminutes across. The blue and orange halos around the star, and the eight spikes of light, are artifacts of the imaging process and are not real. The remarkable planetary system around this star is far too faint and close in to be visible in this image.

Credit:: ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin