A team of German scientists and astrophysicists at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) has discovered a second solar system that orbits a star similar to our own and is “the most extensive planetary system discovered to date” according to Juan Cabrera, an astrophysicist at the DLR – Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin – Aldershof. The star at the center of this discovery is called KOI-35 and is the first such solar system discovered with seven planets circling it, making it intriguingly similar to our solar system and requiring one to wonder…does another Earth exist?
According to a statement on the DLR’s website, “Although the planetary system around KOI-35 is packed together more tightly, it provides an interesting comparison to our cosmic home.”
In an article published in the Astrophysical Journal, Cabrera said, “No other planetary system shows such a similar ‘architecture’ to that of our cosmic home as does the planetary system around KOI-35. Just as in the solar system, rocky planets with roughly the size of Earth are found close to the star, while ‘gas giants’ similar to Jupiter and Saturn are found as you move away from the star. We cannot stress just how important this discovery is. It is a big step in the search for a ‘twin’ to the Solar System, and thus also in finding a second Earth.”
An article published by Tom Bristow on October 30, 2013 in The Local, Germany’s English online news source stated: “… three of the seven planets have orbit periods of 331, 211 and 60 days, similar to those of Earth, Venus and Mercury.”
Tilman Spohn, head of the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, added, “DLR is proud to have made a significant contribution to the discovery of new planetary systems.”
While not yet answered, this discovery takes us one step closer towards that eternal search we have for determining whether or not we are alone in this vast and fascinating Universe.