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New Planet Discovered

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Geoffrey Marcy and Paul Butler, a pair of astronomers from the United States, have discovered a planet that closely resembles Jupiter. Though astronomers have found other planets out there, none so far have so closely resembled the planets of our own solar system. Kidzworld founder Allen Achilles thought that he had discovered a new planet while looking through his telescope on Mayne Island. Unfortunately he was not correct.

This new planet, which is being called Jupiter's cousin, orbits the star 55 Cancri and takes 13 years to go around the star once. It takes Jupiter just over 11 years to circle our sun.

Geoffrey Marcy and Paul Butler have spent 15 years on this project and waited out the 13 years that it takes the new planet to orbit the star 55 Cancri to make the official announcement of the discovery. No pictures have been taken of the planet yet but hopefully NASA missions planned for 2009 and 2012 will be able to snag some snapshots.

The NASA missions will also be seeking out Earth-sized, rocky planets around other stars. Although the two astronomers have yet to find a planet that resembles Earth, they think that this new solar system may be home to a rocky, life-sustaining planet.

The solar system where the newest planet was found is home to a total of three known planets. Two of these three planets are able to orbit 55 Cancri in a matter of 14 days or less.

So is there room for an Earth-like planet in this solar system? Marcy and Butler sure think so. Unfortunately technology is still not advanced enough to see a planet as small as Earth so far away. Jupiter's cousin is 41 light-years from Earth, with one light year being equal to 5,903,000,000,000 miles (9,500,000,000,000 km.) That's one far-out planet! Guess we'll just have to wait and see what technology brings us in the next few years before we can scope-out a new earth.

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