WASHINGTON (AP) — European astronomers have found a trio of "super-Earths" closely circling a star that astronomers once figured had nothing orbiting it, demonstrating that planets keep popping up in unexpected places.
Monday's announcement is the first time three planets close to Earth's size were found orbiting a single star, said Swiss astronomer Didier Queloz. He was part of the Swiss-French team using the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in the desert in Chile.
The mass of the smallest of these super-Earths is about four times the size of Earth. That may seem like a lot, but they are quite a bit closer in size and likely composition to Earth than our solar system's giants — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They are much too hot to support life, Queloz said.
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