Friday, February 4, 2011

Space telescope spots odd new solar system

Space telescope spots odd new solar system

The solar system discovery, published in the journal Nature, is mystifying astronomers for the time being and illustrates just how much variety is possible in the universe. And an orbiting space telescope has pointed scientists to more than 1,200 other possible exoplanets -- planets outside our own solar system -- the space agency NASA said on Wednesday.

Astronomers have spotted a strange new solar system with small "puffy" planets packed in close orbit to their sun.
The team at NASA and a range of universities has named the system Kepler-11, after the orbiting Kepler space telescope that spotted it.

"One of the most striking features about the Kepler-11 system is how close the orbits of the planets are to one another," they wrote in their report.
And they are bigger and puffier than the rocky inner planets of our solar system, Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury, the scientists said. However, they are some of the smallest exoplanets ever seen.
They are much more closely packed ... than any other planetary systems known, including our own," said Jack Lissauer, a scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California.
The star resembles Earth's own sun. But five of the planets orbiting it are packed into a space equivalent to the distance between Mercury and Venus in our own solar system.


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