Three’s Company For Planets

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 7,182
    Astronomer’s using ESO’s HARPS instrument have discovered three new planets in the star cluster Messier 67 with one star being a twin to our own Sun.

    Astronomers have discovered three new planets in the star cluster known as Messier 67 using the European Southern Observatory’s HARPS instrument.  What’s particularly interesting is that two of the three are orbiting stars similar to our own sun while the other one, in fact, circles a star that is the first and only twin to our Sun found yet.  Two of the planets are considered “hot Jupiter’s” because they orbit closer to their host star. The cluster contains 500 stars and is located 2500 light years from the constellation Cancer so HARPS really had to push itself to make planet discoveries.  Astronomers say the age and composition of these stars are similar to our Sun so it makes Messier 67 a perfect laboratory for studying planet formation and “whether they form around mostly massive or less massive stars.”