A European space telescope has found 10 previously unknown alien planets, all of which are gaseous like Saturn or Jupiter, They boost the count of extrasolar planets to 565. The newfound planets form a diverse group. Their densities span a wide range, from values similar to that of Saturn (the least dense planet in our solar system) to ones comparable to that of rocky Mars, researchers said. One planet orbits a 10-billion-year-old star (twice as old as the sun) and another circles a star just 600 million years old.
What’s the Big Idea?
Since the first planet beyond our solar system was discovered back in the 1990s, astronomers have discovered an astonishing diversity of alien worlds. The Kepler project has already identified 1235 more ‘candidate’ planets, which await follow-up study.