An international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of 11 distant planets, bringing the number of known planets outside our solar system to 63.
One of the planets is in an Earth-like orbit around a sun-like star. It is located in what is known as the ?habitable zone,? where conditions would be ideal for the presence of liquid water, a necessary ingredient for life as we know it.
But like all the planets we have discovered so far, this one is a giant about the size of Jupiter. ?It may be orbited by one or more moons on which a more bio-friendly environment has evolved,? according to a spokesman for the European Southern Observatory. Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune, the giant planets in our solar system, all have multiple moons, some of which are thought to have saltwater oceans on them.
One of the new planets was the second one scientists have detected that has 3 stars. Anyone standing on one of these planets would get plenty of light and see 3 suns in the sky.
None of these planets have been observed directly?they have been detected by measuring the wobble they produce as they orbit their stars. Astronomers hope to discover other, smaller planets as more powerful observatories such as the Keck Interferometer come online.
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