Astronomers may have identified the largest-known solar system outside of our own.
Two independent teams of astronomers report on arXiv.org that the star KIC 11442793 has seven planets, the most found to date orbiting a star other than the sun. The record-setting solar system sits about 2,500 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Draco.
KIC 11442793’s clutch of planets consists of two that are roughly the size of Earth, three super-Earths and two much bigger bodies. Like our own solar system, the smaller planets orbit closer to the star, while the larger planets sit farther out, a rare observation the astronomers argue. Unlike our solar system, the outermost planet of KIC 11442793’s system orbits the star at roughly the distance at which Earth circles the sun, meaning that the seven-planet system is extremely compact.
What also makes this discovery different is that amateur astronomers using data from the Kepler spacecraft helped to identify the seventh planet of KIC 11442793.