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Astronomers have discovered a "twin" to the solar system

American researchers discovered a planetary system similar in size to our solar system. They also discovered the smallest planet yet discovered outside the solar system

Oren Rice

Astronomers at the University of Berkeley in California and Carnegie in Washington were shocked by a new discovery of a planetary system, very similar in size to our solar system - as the BBC reported yesterday (Thursday). The sun of the new system is 41 light years away from us.

The researchers also discovered the smallest planet discovered to date outside the solar system, with a mass 40 times that of Earth. The scientists, Geoffrey Marcy of UC Berkeley and Paul Butler of Carnegie, say they are very close to discovering Earth-sized planets, but will have to wait for the launch of the next generation of space satellites in the next decade to reveal Earth's "twins" in outer space . "We have not yet found a solar system identical to our own, but this discovery shows that we are getting close," said Paul Butler.

The group of researchers discovered 13 new planets outside the solar system, thus increasing the number of planets outside our system to 100. The small planet discovered by the pair of researchers moves around its sun at a distance similar to the distance of Jupiter from the sun. It orbits its sun for 13 years, compared to the 11.86 years that Jupiter orbits our sun.

Charles Bichman, the chief scientist of the space agency NASA said that "the existence of a solar system similar to ours emphasizes the urgency of missions whose purpose is to locate stars the size of the Earth."

Close to discovering a "twin" for Earth

Dr. Yoav Yair from the Open University told Ynet in response to the new discoveries: "This is really gratifying, because it means that there is a system there that is very similar to our solar system. The smaller the mass of the planet, the harder it is to detect. In recent years, the pair of American researchers have stepped up their discovery capabilities, and in a few more years they will be able to discover stars that are similar to Earth."

According to Dr. Yair, the American researchers are testing extremely tiny changes in the light intensity of the central star (the Sun), which are created by the gravitational influence of the planets surrounding it (Doppler effect). In this way it is possible to learn about the conditions in those planets.

Prof. Zvi Maza from Tel Aviv University, who participated in the Geneva group, which also discovered planets outside the solar system, says that "this is progress, but not a sensational discovery. The work they do is extremely important, but the important effect is the cumulative effect. They discovered about 50 planets." He pointed out that the similarity of the discovered system to the solar system is due to the fact that "a star similar to Jupiter moves in an orbit similar to the orbit of Jupiter". According to Prof. Maza, as the observation time extends over more years, it is possible to find more stars whose cycle time around the sun is longer.

The researchers agree that at the moment it is not known whether there is life in star systems outside the solar system, but they continue to check whether the conditions on the planets allow life. This is how, for example, they check what the temperature is in those stars, whether there is water in them and what the degree of gravity is.

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