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Science & Space

New planet found in Milky Way


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This picture was taken by the Hubble Telescope, which will now be used to further investigate the discovery.
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(CNN) -- Australian researchers have helped discover a new planet in the Milky Way, and they believe it's just a matter of time before more are discovered.

The gaseous planet is about 1000 times the size of Earth and is about halfway to the center of the galaxy, or about 25,000 light years away, researchers said Tuesday.

The project used a little-known technique called micro-lensing -- using the gravitational pull of a star to act as a giant lens -- to help astronomers to look for new planets.

University of Tasmania Professor John Dickey, who took part in the project, told Australia's ABC radio that the technique could help astronomers discover new planets unable to be picked up by more traditional methods.

"What's special about this event is, it was discovered in a way ... which could, in principle, turn up Earth-like planets as well," Dickey said.

"Our other ways of finding planets around stars are only sensitive to very massive ones like Jupiter.

"We've been struggling with this technique to try to open the door to finding Earth-like planets, which I think is now much more hopeful."

The Hubble Telescope will now be used to try to find out more information about the star and its planet, which astronomers believe is the most distant ever detected.

The discovery is the result of a project coordinated by the Paris Institute of Astrophysics involving four telescopes in the southern hemisphere, including the University of Tasmania's Canopus Observatory.


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