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3 July 2003

Jupiter-like planet found around nearby star                

**** EMBARGOED TO 2100 AEST THURSDAY 3 JULY ****


Astronomers using the Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in eastern Australia have found a planet like Jupiter in orbit round a nearby star that is very like our own Sun.

Among the hundred-odd planetary systems found so far, this is the one most similar to our Solar System.

The discovery will be announced today (Thursday, July 3rd 2003) by Hugh Jones (Liverpool John Moores University) at a conference on "Extrasolar Planets: Today and Tomorrow" in Paris, France.

The new planet, which has a mass about twice that of Jupiter, circles its star (HD70642) about every six years. (Jupiter orbits the Sun in 11.9 years.)

The planet is 3.3 times further from its star than the Earth is from the Sun: if the planet were in our Solar System it would lie about halfway between Mars and Jupiter.

The planet’s orbit is nearly circular and there are no bigger planets closer in to its star.

HD70642 lies in the constellation Puppis and is about 90 light-years away from Earth.

CONTACTS

Dr Chris Tinney
Anglo-Australian Observatory
02-9372-4849 (work)
02-9211-7013 (home)
0416-092-117 (mobile)
cgt@aaoepp.aao.gov.au

Anglo-Australian Planet Search WWW Page
http://www.aao.gov.au/local/www/cgt/planet/aat.html


Dr Brad Carter (lead author on paper announcing discovery)
University of Southern Queensland
07-4631-2801 (work)
0401-337-319 (mobile)
carterb@usq.edu.au


IMAGES AND WEB ANIMATION

The Southern Cross in the sky - a guide to the location of the star. Credit: John Rowe.

The location of the star HD70642. Credit: John Rowe.

Artist's impression of the planet. Credit: John Rowe.

Animation of the planetary system. Credit: John Rowe.

Animation also available on tape.

_______________________________________________
Helen Sim - Public Relations and Media Liaison
Anglo-Australian Observatory
PO Box 296
Australia
hsim@aaoepp.aao.gov.au

tel: +61 2 9372 4251 (bh), 0419-635-905 (mob)
fax: +61 2 9372 4444
 

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