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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Newfound Planet Has Just Three Times Earth's Mass

from New Scientist

The goal of finding an Earth-like planet around another star has just come closer. Astronomers announced today they have discovered a planet of about three Earth masses orbiting a star smaller than our sun.

The planet has the closest mass to Earth of all the known extrasolar planets, and is the lightest planet ever found orbiting a normal-size star.

"Our discovery indicates that even the lowest mass stars can host planets," David Bennett of the University of Notre Dame, who led an international team of astronomers to the discovery, said on Monday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in St Louis, Missouri, US.

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Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC), a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. In an exclusive American Scientist interview, Arthur Kosowsky—a member of the ATC team and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh—discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.

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