Scientists have long looked for a planet outside of our own solar system that would resemble our own cluster of worlds. Space.com reports that researchers have found a planet outside our solar system that is about the size of Jupiter and situated at an orbit similar to Mercury's.
The newfound exoplanet was discovered by the French space agency CNES's CoRoT satellite. Dubbed CoRoT-9b by scientists, it may have a more temperate climate than some of the other exoplanets since discovered. This is because CoRoT-9b is farther away than some of the other gas giant planets circling alien stars. Scientists came to this conclusion by tracking the light signature of the planet passing in front of its host star from the perspective of Earth. CoRoT-9b moves relatively slow, so this gave researchers enough time to get a good look at it.
The physical makeup of CoRoT-9b is similar to a planet in our own solar system. Tristan Guillot of the Côte d'Azure Observatory in Nice, France, is a member of the team that discovered this new planet. As he told Space.com, "Like our own giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn, the planet is mostly made of hydrogen and helium … And it may contain up to 20 Earth masses of other elements, including water and rock at high temperatures and pressures."
Further, CoRoT-9b has a low eccentricity orbit, which means that its orbit remains fairly stable. Scientists believe this allows the exoplanet to have a more temperate climate. Didier Queloz of the Observatory of the University of Geneva in Switzerland is another member of the team that discovered the planet. As he told Space.com, "Our analysis has provided more information on CoRoT-9b than for other exoplanets of the same type."
Does this mean NASA should gear up a shuttle and take a trip to CoRoT-9b to check for life? Researchers say the surface temperature is somewhere between minus 4 and 360 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 20 and 160 degrees Celsius), so, the team might want to bring a jacket.
For further reading: Newfound alien world resembles those in our solar system