Two new solar systems, filled with their own worlds, have been found relatively close to our own. solar system, solar system, solar system
One of them is just 160 light years from Earth and includes three planets that are remarkably similar in size to our own. One of the three is exactly the same size as our own world, and the others are only ever so slightly bigger.
Otherwise, the planets are probably inhospitable: they are very close to their star and therefore very warm. But as yet another discovery of rocket planets that seem to show they are common throughout the universe, they are another sign that it could be more hospitable than we’d thought. solar system, solar system, solar system
The other system has two much larger planets. Those worlds – which like the first system, orbit a red dwarf – are known as super Earths.
Red dwarfs are old and relatively small, and the two stars are much less hot than our Sun. But the newly discovered worlds are much closer, meaning that the temperature is probably too hot for life. solar system, solar system, solar system
The five planets were found by the K2 mission of Nasa’s Kepler satellite. That looks for the brief dips of light that happen when a planet passes in front of its star, and allows scientists to use the details of those dips to work out what they might be like.
Scientists now hope to use further observations – from the new James Webb Space Telescope – to understand more about the planets’ atmospheres. They can also use other telescopes to work out more of the physical properties of the worlds.