Astronomers believe they may have discovered a solar system similar to our own after finding a gas giant that could be Jupiter’s twin orbiting a sun.
A Brazilian-led team of scientists, researching sun-like stars in an attempt to find planetary systems similar to our own solar system, have discovered a planet with a very similar mass to Jupiter.
Using the HARPS planet-hunting instrument at European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, the team has spotted a planet with a “very similar mass to Jupiter” orbiting a sun-like star, named HIP 11915.
This is not the first Jupiter-sized planet found orbiting a Sun-like star. What sets it apart is how closely it echoes both Jupiter’s mass and its distance from its host star.
This discovery has some fascinating implications for planetary formation and the possibility of truly Earth-like planets forming elsewhere in our galaxy.
“After two decades of hunting for exoplanets, we are finally beginning to see long-period gas giant planets similar to those in our own Solar System thanks to the long-term stability of planet hunting instruments like HARPS,” said Dr. Megan Bedell from the University of Chicago, lead author of the paper.
“This discovery is, in every respect, an exciting sign that other solar systems may be out there waiting to be discovered.”
Jupiter is well known to be the gravitational powerhouse of our solar system due to its behemoth size. Jupiter’s size helped stabilize the inner solar system, making it a conducive environment to form Earth in a stable orbit inside our sun’s habitable zone.
“The quest for an Earth 2.0, and for a complete Solar System 2.0, is one of the most exciting endeavors in astronomy,” said Jorge Melendez, co-author of a paper, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be part of this cutting-edge research.”