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What's so exciting about the new planet around 55 Cancri?

I read a recent article on a newly discovered planet in the 55 Cancri system.It said something about it is possible it could be an earth twin because of its orbit in that solar system. Is it possible? Has anyone else heard anything else about it? If so please don't leave me in the dark.

The discovery of the second planet around 55 Cancri has indeed excited Astronomers. This is not because they have discovered an Earth-like planet - that is not yet possible with currently used technology, but because of similarities the system has with our own.

55 Cancri was already know to have a planet orbiting it. This planet is a gas giant slightly smaller than Jupiter which orbits very close to the star (making it a "hot Jupiter" as discussed on our webpage on extrasolar planets).

The new planet is about 5 times the mass of Jupiter and has an orbit about 5 times bigger than the first star. The reason that this excited Astronomers is that it means that the planetary system around 55 Cancri has similar proportions to our own.

Theoretical calculations have shown that an Earth-like planet could survive in a orbit between the two giants, although (as I said above) we are not capable of detecting that (if it is there) yet.

July 2002, Karen Masters (more by Karen Masters) (Like this Answer)

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