An artist's illustration of an Earth-like planet. The search for planets that are similar to Earth is one of NASA's main goals. Many planets have already been discovered orbiting other stars, but so far only larger planets (the size of Jupiter or larger) have been found. New missions are being planned by NASA which will be able to detect smaller Earth-sized planets. Some of these missions will also try to detect signs of life on these planets by studying emissions in their atmospheres.


Trio of 'super-Earths' discovered orbiting one star

June 16, 2008

Artist's impression of the trio of super-Earths discovered using the ESO's 3.6-m telescope at La Silla, Chile, after five years of monitoring. The three planets, having 4.2, 6.7, and 9.4 times the mass of the Earth, orbit the star HD 40307 with periods of 4.3, 9.6, and 20.4 days, respectively. (ESO)

European astronomers said Monday they have discovered five "super-Earths" — including three orbiting a single star — which they say suggests Earth-like planets could be very common outside our solar system.

The discoveries, revealed at a conference in France, were made using a spectrograph at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, which is run by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, or ESO.

Planet hunter Michel Mayor, best known for discovering the first confirmed planet outside our solar system, said in a statement the finds suggest the search for Earth-like planets has just begun.

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For more information:
  1. Three "Super-Earths" Found Orbiting Sun-Like Star
  2. Three Super-Earths Found Orbiting One Star
  3. Three super-Earths found around one star

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