Team Led by UT Scientist Finds New Solar System

A team of researchers led by a UT scientist has discovered an unusual multi-planet system containing a super-Earth and two Neptune-sized planets.

The team led by UT’s Bill Cochran used NASA’s Kepler telescope to find three planets orbiting Kepler-18, a star similar to the Sun. Kepler-18 is just 10 percent larger than the Sun and contains 97 percent of the Sun’s mass. It may host more planets than the three announced today.

The planets are designated b, c, and d. All three planets orbit much closer to Kepler-18 than Mercury does to the Sun. Orbiting closest to Kepler-18 with a 3.5-day period, planet b weighs in at about 6.9 times the mass of Earth, and twice Earth’s size. Planet b is considered a “super-Earth.” Planet c has a mass of about 17 Earths, is about 5.5 times Earth’s size, and orbits Kepler-18 in 7.6 days. Planet d weighs in at 16 Earths, at 7 times Earth’s size, and has a 14.9-day orbit.

Read the nitty-gritty astronomy here.

Photo courtesy NASA.


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