Planetary System Gliese 581
April 22, 2009
After more than four years of observations using the most successful low-mass-exoplanet hunter in the world, the HARPS spectrograph attached to the 3.6-meter ESO telescope at La Silla, Chile, astronomers have discovered in this system the lightest exoplanet found so far: Gliese 581 e (foreground) is only about twice the mass of our Earth. The Gliese 581 planetary system now has four known planets, with masses of about 1.9 (planet e, left in the foreground), 16 (planet b, nearest to the star), 5 (planet c, center), and 7 Earth-masses (planet d, with the bluish color). The planet furthest out, Gliese 581 d, orbits its host star in 66.8 days, while Gliese 581 e completes its orbit in 3.15 days.
Topics: Human Interest, Environment, Extrasolar planets, Astronomy, Planetary science, Gliese 581 b, Gliese 581, Gliese 581 c, Super-Earths, Gliese 581 d, High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, Libra constellation, Terrestrial planets, Planetary systems, low-mass-exoplanet hunter, La Silla, Chile