By David Coppedge
With over 2,000 extrasolar planets found around nearly as many stars, there’s still no place like home.
“Why aren’t we finding other planetary systems like our own?” PhysOrg asked. While the menagerie of planets discovered by the Kepler spacecraft is exotic and curious, it primarily shows that our earth escaped certain death.
Most planetary systems found by astronomers so far are quite different than our own. Many have giant planets whizzing around in a compact configuration, very close to their star. An extreme case in point is a newly found solar system that was announced on October 15, 2012 which packs five—count ‘em—five planets into a region less than one-twelve the size of Earth’s orbit!
An attending scientist at the American Astronomical Association’s Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting commented, “If we can understand this one, hopefully we can understand how these types of systems form and why most known planetary systems appear different from our own solar system.” Now, though, it is not clear. Most planets orbit very close in, but our sun’s planets are widely spaced….
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