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Three 'Super-Earths' Found Orbiting Sun-Like Star

from National Geographic News

A trio of "super-Earths" have been found near a sun-like star, a team of European astronomers announced [yesterday].

The planets orbiting the star HD 40307—which is 42 light-years away—were found using an advanced "planet searcher" instrument at the European Southern Observatory in La Silla, Chile, the French and Swiss astronomers said. The part of the sky being studied contains 45 potential planets that are smaller than 30 times the mass of Earth, the astronomers said. Most of them orbit HD 40307 quickly—every 50 days or less.

"We are convinced that there are plenty of planets everywhere," said Didier Queloz, a member of the research team from the Observatoire de Genève in Switzerland. The discovery is creating a buzz throughout the astronomy community.

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