Feeds

Sun-like star HD10180 thought to have Earth-sized world

Seven-planet system orbits spaced much like ours

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Astroboffins probing the skies with a crafty instrument attached to a mighty telescope high in the Andes have found a sun very like our own - which they believe has a planet of similar size to Earth.

“We have found what is most likely the system with the most planets yet discovered,” says top sky-boffin Christophe Lovis. “We are now entering a new era in exoplanet research: the study of complex planetary systems and not just of individual planets."

The planetary system in question is that of the G-type, main sequence star (ie quite like our own Sun) HD10180, lying 127 lightyears away in the obscure southern constellation Hydrus*, between the Magellanic Clouds as seen from Earth.

HD10180 has now been confirmed to have five big, roughly Neptune-sized planets (say 5 to 13 times as massive as Earth) by measurements from the the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph at La Silla in Chile. In addition, Lovis and his colleagues think that there are probably two more - a hefty Saturn-sized job (65 Earth masses) and one which if confirmed would be the smallest known exoplanet at 1.4 Earth masses.

The discovery of a planet not much bigger than Earth orbiting a star very like the Sun might at first seem to be one of trouser-moistening magnitude: but sadly HD10180a is thought to orbit a mere fiftieth of an Astronomical Unit from its star, meaning that it is far too hot to support life along the same lines as Earth. It is so close to HD10180 that its year lasts barely more than a terrestrial day.

Even so, the discovery of HD10180's planetary system does hold great news for alien-fanciers. The distribution of the system's seven possible planets - only one less than ours, as Pluto was never a proper planet in this sense - seems to follow a principle known as Bode's Law (or the Titius-Bode law), a rough rule predicting the spacing of planets from the Sun.

“This could be a signature of the formation process of these planetary systems,” says Lovis' fellow boffin Michel Mayor.

Though the HD10180 system doesn't appear to offer any homes for life, if Bode's Law applies across the galaxy it ought to mean more Earth-like, water bearing planets and so more aliens to meet/get invaded by and/or new worlds to colonise/invade once that pesky hyperdrive has been mastered.

Lovis and his colleagues' paper can be read by those advanced enough in boffinry to follow it here, free in pdf courtesy of the European Southern Observatory - operator of the HARPS. ®

Bootnote

*The male, or lesser, water snake. Not to be confused with the more famous and much bigger constellation Hydra.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.