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]