Second Solar System Found, Most Distant Galaxy Detected

#Space

Thu, Oct 31st, 2013 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Christian Science Monitor reports on scientists who have discovered "the most distant galaxy ever found," so far in fact, that at its current distance of 13.1 billion light years, it would apper as it looked like "when the universe was only 700 million years old."

Using the chemical composition of the sun as a baseline, the galaxies in the nearby universe host a similar abundance of these heavier elements, which astronomers lump together as “metals.”

The galaxy Finkelstein and his colleagues describe has about 20 to 40 percent of the sun's metal content, which suggests a richer variety of chemical elements than previously thought ? elements necessary to form the raw materials for planets and eventually people.

The galaxy was one of 43 in the team's survey, and the process of finding it could shed light on the period when the early universe was still enveloped in hydrogen fog. Indeed, z8_GND_5296 was the only one of the 43 galaxies for which the researchers detected a prominent feature known as the Lyman-alpha line, which is part of the hydrogen spectrum.

Meanwhile, a team of astrophysicists at the German Aerospace Center, have discovered another solar system very similar to our own, complete with seven planets circling star KOI-351.

Astrophysicists around the world have been searching for a star system similar to our own for a long time. Now, the team led by Juan Cabrera, an astrophysicist at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof has taken a major step in this direction. Three of the seven planets in orbit around the star KOI-351 were discovered in recent years, and have periods of 331, 211 and 60 days, similar to those of Earth, Venus and Mercury.

The planets discovered by Cabrera and his team are even closer to the star and have orbital periods of 7, 9, 92 and 125 days. The outermost planet orbits the star at a distance of about 150 million kilometres, or roughly one Astronomical Unit (AU), so the entire planetary system is compressed into a space corresponding to the distance between Earth and the Sun.

In the article published in the Astrophysical Journal, Juan Cabrera and his colleagues emphasise the similarities between KOI-351 and the Solar System: “No other planetary system shows such a similar ‘architecture’ to that of our cosmic home as does the planetary system around KOI-351,” says Cabrera. “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.”

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