Saturday, March 14

55 Cancri - Our solar system cousin?

2009 is the year dedicated to astronomy. Five planets were already found in 55 Cancri the system that looks like our solar system. According to Nasa: "This artist's concept illustrates two planetary systems - 55 Cancri and our own. Blue lines show the orbits of planets, including the dwarf planet Pluto in our solar system. The 55 Cancri system is currently the closest known analogue to our solar system, yet there are some fundamental differences." "The similarities begin with the stars themselves, which are about the same mass and age. Both stars also host big families of planets. Our solar system has eight planets, while 55 Cancri has five, making it the record-holder for having the most known exoplanets. In fact, 55 Cancri could have additional planets, possibly even rocky ones that are too small to be seen with current technologies. All of the planets in the two systems have nearly circular orbits. In addition, both planetary systems have giant planets in their outer regions. The giant located far away from 55 Cancri is four times the mass of our Jupiter, and completes one orbit every 14 years at a distance of five times that between Earth and the sun." (emphasis mine)

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