Every day, we learn more about our solar system and how it's not as unique as we once thought it was. With the discovery of new potentially habitable planets, along with spotting galaxies billions of miles away, new data points to the fact that (by the numbers) we are likely not alone in the Universe. Perhaps one of the most exciting discoveries, though, is of a new planetary system that is very much like our own.
Astrophysicists discovered this new planetary system, KOI-351, while poring over the massive amounts of data coming in from the Kepler telescope. KOI-351 has at least seven planets that orbit a star. And much like our own solar system, the rocky planets are closest to this system’s version of the Sun, while the gaseous planets are furthest away.
The first three of these planets have orbital cycles similar to our own, nearly mimicking the orbits of Mercury, Venus and Earth. However, because these cycles varied a bit, the team of astrophysicists looked more closely at the data and discovered four more planets. After discovering those, the team surmised that although this system is much like our own, it’s more compact and its planets orbit closer to their star. However, this is the first time we’ve seen something as similar to our own solar system, so it’s still exciting news.
If the ESO’s PLATO mission gets off the ground, scientists will be able to study KOI-351 more closely. PLATO will give them the ability to study each planet in detail, learning about its size, mass and composition. In doing so, we’ll learn about how these planets formed and perhaps gain some insight into those in our own back yard.
Via Universe Today