Cape Canaveral, Fla. Jan 28: An international team of astronomers have found a new solar system — with five small rocky planets which makes ours look like a baby.
Announcing the characteristics of this newly found system on Tuesday,they said this extrasolar system dates back to 11.2 billion years ago. With the age of the universe pegged at 13.8 billion years, this is the oldest star with close-to-Earth-size planets ever found.
Compared to this,our solar system is 4.5 billion years old.
All the five planets are smaller than Earth. Among them, the largest is equivalent to size of Venus and the smallest slightly bigger than Mercury. According to University of Sydney´s Daniel Huber, an important member of the team, it takes less than 10 days for these planets to orbit their stars at less than one-tenth the Earth´s distance from the sun, making them closer to habitation.
“We´ve never seen anything like this — it is such an old star and the large number of small planets make it very special,” Huber said in a statement. “It is extraordinary that such an ancient system of terrestrial-sized planets formed when the universe was just starting out, at a fifth its current age.”
Meanwhile, issuing a statement, lead researcher Tiago Campante of the University of Birmingham in England noted that by now knowing close-to-Earth-size planets formed so long ago, could indicate that the scope for the existence of ancient life in the galaxy still remains.
In an attempt to determine the age and size of this compact system,Campante, an asteroseismologist,measured oscillations from the star.
A four-year period observation was made with the help of NASA´s Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft.Thus, the bright sunlike star at the heart of this system is named Kepler-444. It falls in the Constellation Lyre.
In its latest edition, Astrophysical Journal has published the findings of the international team of astronomers that include scientists from Europe, Australia and the United States.
Since its inception in 2009,Kepler hasdiscovered more than 1,000 confirmed exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — and nearly 4,200 candidates and its revitalization in last year following a breakdown in its pointing system. It achieved its 1,000-mark earlier this month. Agencies