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A system of planets with a structure similar to the solar system has been found - which may allow life to exist

The system, 90 light years from Earth, has its own "sun" and "Jupiter" - two of the conditions that make life possible

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The star system that is similar to the solar system

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For many years, scientists looking for signs of life outside of Earth have been trying to find a star system with similar properties to our solar system. In such a system, according to them, the chance of life developing is greater. At the end of the week, an international group of scientists reported that they managed to locate such a star system - in which a sun-like star and a planet reminiscent of the planet Jupiter in its features. According to them, this structure may hint at the existence of life on planets in this solar system. In the near future they intend to try to find more planets in the discovered system.

The star system was discovered by a group of British and Australian astronomers, who used a telescope located in New South Wales, Australia. It is in the constellation "Puppis" which is about 90 light years away from Earth. The sun-like star at its center, called HD70642, emits too faint a light to be seen with the naked eye.

The detection of the system was done as part of a project to detect systems similar to our solar system. A prerequisite for such a system requires the presence of two basic components: a sun-like star and a Jupiter-like planet, orbiting its sun in a circular orbit and at a sufficiently large distance. The reason for the search for these properties stems from the decisive role of Jupiter in the formation of life on Earth.

In our solar system, Jupiter acts as a "vacuum cleaner" or "guardian" that protects the other planets thanks to its enormous gravitational force, which deflects meteors and asteroids from them - including from the Earth. In many cases the meteors and asteroids hit Jupiter after being caught in its gravity. The scientists believe that one meteor that managed to escape from Jupiter's gravity hit the Earth and destroyed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

The planet orbiting HD70642 has a mass almost twice that of Jupiter. It orbits it once every six years from a distance of 3.3 astronomical units (about 495 million kilometers)

. The planet Jupiter orbits the Sun every 12 years and is distant from it about 5.2 astronomical units (about 780 million kilometers).

According to the British astronomer Hugh Jones, a member of the research team, although a Jupiter-like planet has also been found in other systems examined, the new system is the most similar to our solar system. According to him, from an examination of more than 100 star systems that may be similar to our solar system, it emerged that most Jupiter-like planets orbit their sun in an elliptical orbit rather than a circular orbit - something that reduces the chance of life developing on other planets. In addition, their distance from their "sun" was too big or too small.

"If we find a planet with a mass similar to that of Jupiter, which orbits its sun at a distance of 5-4 astronomical units, without finding evidence of the existence of another gas star nearby, it will be similar to a neon light shining in the middle of the universe and pointing at the star as if to say 'Look, I'm here!'", said the astronomer Dr. Alan Boss, from the Institute of Astrobiology of the American space agency. "This star will be a major target for us in trying to find if there are Earth-like planets around it where life has evolved."

Due to the great distance of the system from Earth, astronomers have difficulty finding out whether it has other planets in the inner orbit. According to the astronomers, if such planets are found, they may serve as optimal places for the development of life.
Source: Yuval Dror, Haaretz

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