Scientists find ancient solar system in Milky Way galaxy
Friday, January 30, 2015
Astronomers reported on Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal they have found an ancient solar system with several Earth-like planets.
They said the system dates roughly to the formation of the Milky Way galaxy. They found the planets orbiting around Kepler-444, about 117 light years from Earth. Researchers investigated Kepler-444 with NASA's Kepler telescope using a method called astroseismology.
Scientists explain they studied the star and noticed planets passing in front of it because it created a dimming effect in which the star seems less bright for a short period of time, when there are actually planets passing between the observer and the star.
Because these planets are older than Earth, this suggests life might have existed in the early universe, the researchers say.
According to Daniel Huber, part of the research team at the University of Sydney, it takes under ten days for these five planets to orbit the star and all of them are too close to it to sustain life. These planets are smaller than Earth, with the largest compared to Venus.
This month, the number of exoplanets found using the Kepler telescope passed 1,000.
- AP. "5 rocky planets found in very ancient 'solar system'" — CBC News, January 28, 2015
- Alyssa Newcomb. "Astronomers Discover Ancient Solar System With 5 Earth-Like Planets" — ABC News, January 27, 2015
- T. L. Campante et al. "An Ancient Extrasolar System with Five Sub-Earth-size Planets" — The Astrophysical Journal, January 27, 2015