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First alien planets found around sun-like stars in cluster

Pasadena, California, Sep 17 (): NASA-funded astronomers have found for the first time planets orbiting sun-like stars found in a crowded group of stars.

The discovery offers the evidence that planets could sprout in dense environments. Though the newly found planets are uninhabitable, they would have starrier skies than Earth has.

There are two starry-skied planets called hot Jupiters. They are massive and gaseous planets that are at boiling hot temperature as they orbit very close around parent stars. Every hot Jupiter planet has a different star in Beehive Cluster, called Praesepe, a group of about 1,000 stars that look to be crawling around a centre.

The Beehive Cluster is either an open cluster or grouping of many stars born in the same period and made of similar huge cloud of substances. So, the stars share similar chemical structure and composition. Unlike majority of the stars that spread shortly after their birth, these new stars remain very loosely bound with each other by common gravitational attraction.

NASA astrophysics scientist in Origins of Solar Systems Program, Mario R. Perez said that they were detecting many planets that could thrive in the diverse and very extreme environments as these close clusters. Our galaxy comprises of over thousands of these open clusters that potentially could present physical conditions for harbouring many more like these giant planets.

These two Beehive planets are named Pr0201b, Pr0211b. Previous searches have discovered two planets orbiting massive stars. None had been discovered around stars similar to our sun till now.

Quinn said this is a great puzzle for the planet hunters. He said that they knew that most of the stars form clustered environments as similar to Orion nebula. If these thick environments prevent planet formation, some sun-like stars in the open cluster should have the planets.

The research group suspects that planets were formed in Beehive cluster as it has many metals. The stars in Beehive have many heavy elements like iron than sun has.

A student in astronomy at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Sam Quinn and his group, in association with David Latham at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, discovered these planets using 1.5-meter Tillinghast telescope at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory near Amado, Arizona.

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