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System with most planets discovered

26 August 2010 15:09

Scientists have discovered a planetary system in which at least five Neptune-sized planets orbit a solar type star called HD 10180 in the southern constellation of Hydrus.

The newest system of exoplanets, planets outside our Solar system, is believed to be the richest of its type.

Each of the five identified planets has a minimum mass estimate ranging from 12 to 25 times Earth’s, while HD 10180 is said to be similar to the Sun.

The discovery was made by a team of researchers who used the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to study the system.

Lead researcher Christophe Lovis from Geneva University’s observatory in Switzerland says his team has probably found “the system with the most planets yet discovered”.

“This also highlights the fact that we are now entering a new era in exoplanet research – the study of complex planetary systems and not just of individual planets,” the BBC quoted Lovis as saying on Tuesday.

The research team used an instrument known as HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher) in a unique research to calculate the number of planets as well as their mass in the system.

“Studies of planetary motions in the new system reveal complex gravitational interactions between the planets and give us insights into the long-term evolution of the system,” Lovis added.

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