Evidence grows for nearby planetary system

5:54pm, April 7, 2003

Although it lies close to Earth, the star Epsilon Eridani could well be overlooked by a casual observer. Skywatchers, however, may want to mark the location of this lone, sunlike star, just west of Orion the hunter.

Astronomers plan to report next week that Epsilon Eridani is the nearest star known to harbor a planet. Together with previous observations, the new find hints that several planets could be orbiting the star. If so, an entire planetary system may lie just 10.5 light-years from Earth.

It's "like finding a planet in our own backyard," codiscoverer William D. Cochran of the University of Texas at Austin told Science News.

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