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Eight New Possible Planets Detected

Source: ABC News

8th May 2000

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - European astronomers on Monday reported detecting signs that eight planets, some of them possibly larger than Jupiter, may be orbiting stars outside our own solar system. These discoveries bring the number of potential extrasolar planets to more than 40. The hunt for these planet candidates has intensified in the last year, as space scientists from around the world scan the heavens for Sun-like stars and planets that might orbit them. The newest candidates were detected by astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory's La Silla observatory in Chile. The scientists are based in Geneva, Switzerland. None of the planet candidates have ever been seen by humans, but scientists believe they are there because of the gravitational pull they exert on the stars they orbit. Two of the eight new candidates may not be planets at all, the European scientists said in a statement, but could instead be brown dwarfs, which have a bit less mass than stars and completely lack a star's interior nuclear power source. Three of the new planet possibilities are about the size of Saturn or smaller, three are one to three times the size of Jupiter and two are 10 times the size of Jupiter or larger. All of these are far larger than Earth.

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