4 Jul 2014

New Earth-sized planet found

9:16 am on 4 July 2014

New Zealand scientists have helped discover an Earth-sized planet in an Earth-like orbit more than 3000 light years away.

Astronomers from Auckland, Massey and Canterbury universities along with amateur astronomers were part of an international team that discovered the planet.

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It is the first such planet found in a system that is home to two stars.

Though twice the mass of Earth, it doesn't support life, as it has temperatures of minus two hundred degrees.

But a physics lecturer at Auckland University, Nicholas Rattenbury, said the discovery shows there could be many more planets in the galaxy capable of supporting life.

Scientists used a technique known as microlensing to detect the planet.

Microlensing discovers planets by measuring how the gravity of a planet and its host star deflects light coming from background stars.