Astronomers Discover 6 Planets Orbiting The Same Star

eScience News reports:

A NASA team including three University of Florida astronomers has found six new planets in a distant solar system that in some ways resembles our own. The NASA team, including UF associate professor Eric Ford, postdoctoral associate Althea Moorhead and graduate student Robert Morehead, will announce its findings in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

“This is the new prototype for a system of rocky planets beyond our own,” Ford said. “It changes our understanding of the frequency of solar systems like our own in deep space.”

The planets orbit Kepler-11, a sun-like star about 2,000 light years away. With temperatures hotter than Venus – likely more than 400 to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit – the planets range in size from twice to 4½ times Earth’s diameter. The five confirmed planets are larger in mass but less dense than Earth, and closely packed, taking from 10 to 47 days to orbit the star. There is almost certainly a sixth planet orbiting nearly twice as far away, but its distance from the star makes its confirmation more difficult, Ford said.

[Continues at eScience News]

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  • http://www.yourpredator.com Hunter Coch

    I am willing to bet each star has at least one orbiting body of at least planetoid size. It seems reasonable that a planet is a common side effect of star formation.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      In the same light it seems odd to assume there aren’t many planets around stars when we see much smaller objects having natural satellites very commonly (how many planets in our solar system have their own moon(s)?)

      I’d think there are big rocks of every size and make out there, and its safe to assume that the bigger ones need a bigger “bowl” of gravity to fit into, namely stars.

  • http://www.yourpredator.com Hunter Coch

    I am willing to bet each star has at least one orbiting body of at least planetoid size. It seems reasonable that a planet is a common side effect of star formation.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    In the same light it seems odd to assume there aren’t many planets around stars when we see much smaller objects having natural satellites very commonly (how many planets in our solar system have their own moon(s)?)

    I’d think there are big rocks of every size and make out there, and its safe to assume that the bigger ones need a bigger “bowl” of gravity to fit into, namely stars.

  • Brando

    Not that this isn’t exciting news, but I wonder if I’m the only one who finds it particularly interesting that there is a Morehead on the team, as well as a Moorhead. Did someone goof on the spelling, and they are both Morehead/Moorhead? Or, a more interesting possibility is that the spelling is correct. The chances of that are astronomical. The day a Morehead and Moorhead randomly find themselves on the same team is the day we find a distant star that has six planets orbiting it…

  • Brando

    Not that this isn’t exciting news, but I wonder if I’m the only one who finds it particularly interesting that there is a Morehead on the team, as well as a Moorhead. Did someone goof on the spelling, and they are both Morehead/Moorhead? Or, a more interesting possibility is that the spelling is correct. The chances of that are astronomical. The day a Morehead and Moorhead randomly find themselves on the same team is the day we find a distant star that has six planets orbiting it…

  • Ironaddict06

    I’d be willing to bet that by within two years NASA announces that it has discovered an Earth like planet, and within 5 years NASA announces that it has found an Earth like planet that has liquid water.

  • Ironaddict06

    I’d be willing to bet that by within two years NASA announces that it has discovered an Earth like planet, and within 5 years NASA announces that it has found an Earth like planet that has liquid water.

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