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Two More Planets Discovered Orbiting Other Stars

March 30, 2000|From Times staff and wire reports

Astronomers on Wednesday revealed evidence for the smallest planets yet found orbiting other stars, a sign that solar systems like our own are probably abundant in the universe. About 30 planets the size of Jupiter or bigger have previously been discovered, but the two new ones are only about a third the size of Jupiter, the researchers said at a NASA press conference.

One of the new planets has 80% of the mass of Saturn and circles the star HD46375, 109 light-years from Earth, every three days. The second has 70% of the mass of Saturn and circles 79 Ceti, 117 light-years away, in 75 days. Surface temperatures on the new planets are 1,500 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

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