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Astronomers detect "super-Earths" around Sun-like stars
Posted: Tue, Dec 15, 2009, 7:11 AM ET (1211 GMT)
Astronomers announced Monday the discovery of two "super-Earth" extrasolar planets orbiting nearby Sun-like stars. The star 61 Virginis, 28 light-years from the Earth, has three planets observed by astronomers, including one about five times the mass of the Earth. The star HD 1461, 76 light-years from the Earth, has a planet with a mass 7.5 times that of Earth. While such super-Earths, so named because they're bigger than the Earth but less massive than small gas giants like Uranus and Neptune, have been discovered around other stars, but astronomers said this is the first time they've been spotted around Sun-like stars. This suggests that such planets may be commonplace around at least nearby stars.
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