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Kepler Ancient Solar System — Complete With Alien Planets — Discovered

Image: Kepler Ancient Solar System — Complete With Alien Planets — Discovered
(physics.usyd.edu.au)

By    |   Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 07:30 AM

A Kepler ancient solar system was found recently by a team of astronomers who discovered five alien planets orbiting around a sun-like star likely formed at the dawn of the universe.

The discovery, announced Wednesday in the publication Astrophysical Journal, surprised researchers because of the solar system's age, estimated at 11.2 billion years old, according to a release from the University of Sydney.

The five planets found circling the ancient sun, named Kepler-444 by researchers, are all smaller than Earth, according to the team led by the University of Birmingham with contributions from the University of Sydney.

"We've never seen anything like this," said the University of Sydney's Daniel Huber, the author of the study. "It is such an old star and the large number of small planets make it very special. It is extraordinary that such an ancient system of terrestrial-sized planets formed when the universe was just starting out, at a fifth its current age.

"Kepler-444 is two and a half times older than our solar system, which is only a youthful 4.5 billion years old," Huber continued. "This tells us that planets this size have formed for most of the history of the universe and we are much better placed to understand exactly when this began happening."

Forbes science contributor Faye Flam wrote that the discovery of the aging worlds cut against prevailing theory of how the universe started.

"The existence of such old planets surprised the scientists because the universe started out with a very short periodic table," Flam wrote. "The 'big bang' made just three elements: hydrogen, helium and a small amount of lithium. The rest of the elements didn't form until later, inside stars.

"They weren't released into the universe until some of those stars died in supernova explosions," Flam continued. "That means as time goes by, the universe gets richer in carbon, oxygen, silicon and other elements needed to make a planet like Earth."

Huber said that since the planets circle their ancient sun every day, they are likely too hot support life as we know it.

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A Kepler ancient solar system was found recently by a team of astronomers who discovered five alien planets orbiting around a sun-like star likely formed at the dawn of the universe.
kepler, ancient, solar system, alien, planets, universe
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2015-30-28
Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 07:30 AM
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