Astronomers discover look-alike of our solar system

April 8th, 2008 - 1:27 pm ICT by admin  

London, April 8 (ANI): Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star that can be described as the look-alike of our solar system.

According to a report by BBC News, the discovery was made from a research team from St Andrews University in the UK.

Although nearly 300 extrasolar planets have been identified, astronomers have consistently failed to find planetary systems that resemble our own.

But, the newfound planetary system, which orbits the star OGLE-2006-BLG-109L and is about five thousand light-years away, can be referred to as the look-alike of our solar system.

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, said Dr Martin Dominik, from St Andrews University.

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, he added.

The new solar system was 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.

Its 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.

According to Dominik, the ultimate goal for exoplanet researchers was to find habitable Earth-like and Mars-like planets.

I think it will happen quite soon, he said, adding that 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. (ANI)

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