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New Images: They Might Be Planets

3:14pm, January 16, 2004

Astronomers have obtained images of a group of objects beyond our solar system that, based on their mass alone, could qualify as planets. The faint objects lie in a young star cluster, sigma Orionis, 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion.

Several recent studies suggest that these faint, cool bodies may be rampant throughout the galaxy. Previous evidence for extrasolar planets has been indirect, from the wobble they induce on their parent star (SN: 8/5/00, p. 84: Evidence grows for nearby planetary system).

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