Solar System Like Ours Discovered

Evidence found of solar system around nearby star

WASHINGTON — For the first time, astronomers think that they’ve found evidence of an alien solar system around a star close enough to Earth to be visible to the naked eye.

They say that at least one and probably three or more planets are orbiting the star Epsilon Eridani, 10.5 light-years — about 63 trillion miles — from Earth. Only eight stars are closer.

The host star, slightly smaller and cooler than our sun, is in the constellation Eridanus — the name of a mythological river — near Orion in the northern sky.

Epsilon Eridani is much younger than the sun, about 850 million years old compared with 4.5 billion years for our system.

“This really is a system like our solar system was when it was five times younger than it is now,” said one of the discoverers, Massimo Marengo , an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. “It’s like a time machine for our solar system.”

“This system probably looks a lot like ours did when life first took root on Earth,” said Dana Backman , of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. , the lead author of a report to be published Jan. 10 in The Astrophysical Journal .

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3 comments on “Solar System Like Ours Discovered

  1. One sees these descriptions occasionally, but on closer inspection, rarely are the ‘solar systems like ours’ much like ours. Even in this case, the scientist only speculates:

    “Marengo raised the possibility that more Earthlike planets might exist in the space between Epsilon Eridani and the inner dust ring.

    “The inside belt is cleared, like in our solar system,” he said. “There could be terrestrial planets inside, but we can’t detect them yet.”

    So while it might be somewhat like ours, whether it is in actuality that way is mere speculation at this point, and the previous 300 planets discovered to date don’t give us much hope.

  2. I am just pointing out that as far as our current scientific evidence goes, there is no evidence indicating we aren’t wholly unique as a planet in our ability to sustain life. Science is always based on what we know, not on what we don’t know.

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