October 2011 — Artist’s impression of the planetary system around the Sun-like star HD 10180

Observations with the HARPS spectrograph, attached to ESO's 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, Chile, have revealed the definite presence of five planets and evidence for two more in orbit around this Sun-like star. This system is similar to the Solar System in terms of the number of planets and the presence of a regular pattern in the sizes of the orbits. If confirmed, the closest planet detected would be the lightest yet known outside the Solar System, with a mass that could be only about 1.4 times that of the Earth.

The large crescent in the image is the third world in the system (HD 10180d), which is comparable to the planet Neptune in mass. The two inner planets appear as silhouettes in transit across the bright disc of the star. The outer planets in the system appear in the background sky.

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ESO/L. Calçada

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