Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Most Earth-like Extrasolar Planet Discovered to Date

The most Earth-like extrasolar planet to date has been discovered orbiting Gliese 876, about 15 light years from us. The planet has about 7.5 times the mass and twice the radius of Earth. It's most likely a rocky planet -- instead of the usual large, gas giants that have been discovered to date. The rocky planet orbits Gliese 876 every two days in a near circular orbit. The Gliese 876 system includes two other gas giant planets.

Gliese 876 is an M dwarf star about one-third the size of the Sun, and is located in the Aquarius constellation.

Three planets orbit the star Gliese 876 in this artist's rendering. The smallest of the trio, barely visible to the right of the small red star, is the most Earth-like extrasolar planet yet discovered.

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