A team of astronomers drawn from all over the world discovered a new solar system consisting of five Earth sized planets revolving around an 11.2 billion year old sun (Kepler-444) while poring over data sent by US Kepler space telescope. The newly discovered solar system, it is being believed, dates back to the dawn of the galaxy.
Astronomers studying the new solar system believe that the parent star of the new system, Kepler-444, was formed more than 11.2 billion years ago, when the universe was less than 20 percent its current age.
“This is the oldest known system of terrestrial-sized planets in our Galaxy — two and a half times older than our system, which is only a youthful 4.5 billion years old,” according to the team’s paper published in the US journal Astrophysical Journal.
The team consisted mainly of researchers from the University of Birmingham who were joined by experts from Denmark, the US, Australia, Portugal, Germany and Italy. By observing the very minute changes in the brightness of the Kepler-444, the team was able to estimate the age and diameter of the parent star and that of the planets revolving around it.
It is being estimated that the parent star is about 75percent the size of OUR sun while the diameter of the five planets vary in size. They are all larger than Mercury but smaller than Venus. The team also added that they complete one revolution within ten days because of their proximity to their parent star. We can logically deduce from that the planets are all hotter than Mercury and, therefore, not conducive for life.
That discovery may help astronomers learn even more about early planet formation in the galaxy.
“By the time the Earth formed, the planets in this system were already older than our planet is today,” Tiago Campante of the University of Birmingham, who led the study, said in a statement.
“This discovery may now help to pinpoint the beginning of what we might call the ‘era of planet formation’,” he added.
The findings were published in the paper, “An Ancient Extrasolar System with Five Sub-Earth-Size Planets,” published today by the Astrophysical Journal.