Washington, June 26 (ANI): A team of astronomers has discovered a new solar system packed full of planets.
The star Gliese 667C is orbited by between five and seven planets, the maximum number that could fit in stable, close orbits.
A record-breaking three of these planets are super-Earths found in the so-called habitable zone around the star-the zone where liquid water could exist. This makes them good candidates for the search for life.
Gliese 667C is a very well-studied star. It is just over one third of the mass of our Sun, and it is part of a triple star system known as Gliese 667.
Gliese 667 is remarkably similar to our solar system, compared to other stars studied in the search for habitable planets.
Previous studies of Gliese 667C found that the star hosts three planets, with one in the habitable zone.
Now, a team of astronomers led by Guillem Anglada-Escude of the University of Gottingen, a former Carnegie post-doc, reexamined observations taken between 2003 and 2012, along with new observations from a variety of telescopes, and found evidence for five, and possibly as many as seven, planets around the star.
If seven planets exist, they would completely fill the habitable zone; there are no more stable, long-lived orbits in which a planet could be so close to the star.
Because Gliese 677C is part of a triple-star system, the other orange stars would be visible in daytime on each of these planets, and in nighttime they would provide the same illumination as the full moon on earth.
Three of these planets are confirmed to be super-Earths-planets more massive than Earth, but less massive than giant planets like Uranus or Neptune-which are within the star's habitable zone.
This is not the case for cooler and dimmer stars Planets found very close to such stars could still be habitable planet candidates.
The Gliese 667C system is the first example of a system in which a low-mass star is seen to host several packed planets with habitable conditions. (ANI)