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Scientists using a powerful telescope in Chile have found an alien planet circling a star that is nearly identical to the sun and located in a star cluster 2,500 light-years from Earth.
The discovery marks the first time that scientists have found an exoplanet circling a solar twin in a star cluster, according to European Southern Observatory officials, the group that operates the telescope instrument that made the discovery. Scientists used ESO's HARPS telescope instrument to find the exoplanet, which is a little smaller than Jupiter and takes seven days to orbit its star. The strange world, along with two other exoplanets also found by the HARPS instrument, are located in Messier 67, a star cluster populated by about 500 stars.
ESO scientists also created a video explanation of the sunlike-star's alien planet, as well as the discovery of two other exoplanets that were found in the same study. While exoplanets have been found in star clusters before, this is the first time one has been found circling a sun twin in a cluster. [The Strangest Alien Planets (Gallery)]
Three planets gave been spotted orbiting stars in the Messier 67 star cluster. This is the first observation of planets orbiting stars in a star cluster and could lead to new insights on planet formation and planetary systems.
In an open cluster of stars about 2,500 light-years from Earth, scientists have discovered three new exoplanets, including one that orbits a star almost identical to our sun.
Although scientists have confirmed 1,000 exoplanets in the last several years, this is the first time they have ever seen one orbiting what's known as a "solar twin" in a cluster of stars.
Detecting planets in star clusters has not been easy, and most of the exoplanets discovered so far have been found orbiting lonely stars that live in relative isolation.