Using the HARPS spectrograph, installed on the 3.6-meter telescope of the European Southern Observatory in La Silla, a team of astronomers has discovered a planetary system with at least five Neptune-like planets-between 13 and 25 mass orbiting terrestres- the star HD 10180, much like our sun. In addition, the distances of the planets from their star follow a regular pattern as in the Solar System. And all the planets seem to have almost circular orbits.
As explained Christophe Lovis, a research observatory at the University of Geneva in Switzerland and head of the study, there are good reasons to believe that two other planets are present. One would be a Saturn-like planet with a minimum mass of 65 Earth masses, orbiting in 2200 days. The other would be the least massive exoplanet ever discovered, with a mass about 1.4 times that of Earth, and would be very close to its host star, at just 2 percent of the Earth-Sun distance. One "year" on this "small" planet would last only 1.18 Earth days.
For his discovery, the team of astronomers used the HARPS spectrograph on a six-year duration of the star HD 10180, located 127 light years away in the southern constellation of Hydrus. This is the "system with the most planets yet discovered," says Lovis, who also said that "we are entering a new era in exoplanet research: the study of complex planetary systems and not just of individual planets."
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