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Five Planets Around Nearby Star Tau Ceti; One in Habitable Zone

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Five Planets Around Nearby Star Tau Ceti; One in Habitable Zone

The location of Tau Ceti in the night sky. Credit: University of Hertfordshire

Look up in the sky tonight towards the southeast in the constellation Cetus. There’s a naked-eye star named Tau Ceti that lies about 12 light-years away from Earth, and astronomers have discovered a system of at least five planets orbiting Tau Ceti, including one in the star’s habitable zone.

While the recent discovery of a Earth-sized planet around the triple star system Alpha Centauri is the closest planet that has been discovered at just 4.3 light years away, this new discovery is the closest single sun-like star that we know of to host of an entire system of planets. The five planets are estimated to have masses between two and six times the mass of the Earth, making it the lowest-mass planetary system yet detected. The planet in the habitable zone of the star has a mass around five times that of Earth, making it the smallest planet found to be orbiting in the habitable zone of any Sun-like star.
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© nancy for Universe Today, 2012. | Permalink | 32 comments |
Post tags: Extrasolar Planets, Tau Ceti

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Five Planets Around Nearby Star Tau Ceti; One in Habitable ZoneFive Planets Around Nearby Star Tau Ceti; One in Habitable ZoneFive Planets Around Nearby Star Tau Ceti; One in Habitable ZoneFive Planets Around Nearby Star Tau Ceti; One in Habitable Zone