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Earth sized planets confirmed

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posted on Jun, 1 2003 @ 01:23 PM
29 May 2003

NASHVILLE -- There are three planets beyond our solar system about the same size as Earth. Found more than a decade ago, you might not have heard about them as their discovery was clouded in controversy.

But today the dispute is over, the planets are still there, and astronomers have pinned down their sizes with much more precision.

The planets are dead worlds, orbiting a dying star where there is no chance for anything interesting to happen, biologically. Because of this, most planet hunters have shown little interest in them. In fact, it is common for these worlds to be ignored when researchers make lists of known planets. It is seldom mentioned that they were indeed the first-ever extra-solar planets ever discovered.

One of the planets is 4.3 times as massive as Earth and another is three times as heavy, give or take five percent, according to Wolszczan and Caltech postdoctoral researcher Maciej Konacki, who presented their latest results here today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Measurements of the third planet are less firm, but it appears to be about twice as massive as the Moon -- significantly less than Earth.

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