New planet found in star's orbit

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The Independent Online
American scientists have boosted the notion that many more stars in the galaxy may have Earth-sized planets orbiting them, after finding evidence for a planet the size of Jupiter around a star just 50 light years away.

Though it is almost certainly too hot to sustain life, and is not the closest to Earth of the extrasolar planets to be found, it does offer fresh evidence for how such star and planet systems form. The planet was found by detecting tiny variations in the motion of the star, Rho Coronae Borealis in the Northern Crown constellation, from an observatory at Mt Hopkins in Arizona.

Last year other astronomers reckoned they had found two extrasolar planets around a star just eight light years away from Earth. Both of those were also reckoned to be the size of Jupiter.

"This discovery helps show that giant planets like Jupiter may be reasonably common around ordinary stars," said Robert Noyes, one of the team.

"It is exciting to think that there may be many smaller planets much more like the Earth in orbit around these stars, as in our own solar system."

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