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Astronomers Discover Jupiter’s Twin — Could it Lead to Earth 2.0?

posted: 07/16/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Jupiter's twin
ESO/M. Kornmesser

Astronomers have discovered Jupiter's celestial twin: another gas giant of comparable size, orbiting a star very similar to our Sun.

Using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) in Chile, the team located the planet orbiting HIP 11915, a star similar in mass and composition and nearly identical in age to the Sun. The planet, which has yet to be named, is also a comparable distance away from its star.

The discovery may be an important step in the quest to identify what researchers refer to as Earth 2.0: another planet that is similar to Earth and possibly capable of harboring life. Hypothetically, Earth 2.0 lies within Solar System 2.0, which is -- you guessed it -- another system similar to ours.

"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. This discovery is, in every respect, an exciting sign that other solar systems may be out there waiting to be discovered," remarked study lead author Megan Bedell.

A cautiously optimistic news release about the discovery notes that "follow-up observations are needed to confirm [...] the finding".

Click here to read the full news release from the European Southern Observatory

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