50 new planets found

September 13th, 2011 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 13 (IANS) Astronomers have discovered at least 50 new planets beyond the solar system, including 16 that are of a size similar to Earth, a media report said.

The biggest planet of the new batch is named “HD 85512 b”. It is 3.6 times the mass of Earth and can be found 36 light years away in the Vela constellation, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

The discovery was made by the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), installed at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

The findings would be presented at a conference on Extreme Solar Systems to be held in Wyoming, US.

The discovery suggests that more than half of the stars like the sun possess planets.

“The detection of ‘HD 85512 b’ is far from the limit of HARPS, and demonstrates the possibility of discovering other super-Earths in habitable zones around stars similar to the sun,” University of Geneva astronomer Michel Mayor was quoted as saying.

Team member Lisa Kaltenegger of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics said the findings mark a new age in the search for habitable planets.

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