13 Sep 2011

Tens of new planets discovered

8:20 pm on 13 September 2011

European astronomers have discovered more than 50 new planets outside the solar system.

The astronomers used the HARPS telescope, which is based in Chile, to hunt down the planets which include 16 super-Earths, so named because they are rocky planets much larger than our own.

They say one of these planets is in an orbit which could allow liquid water to exist on its surface.

The planet is 3.6 times bigger than earth and orbits much closer to its sun, but still within the so-called habitable zone.

The study has also led to astronomers concluding about 40% of stars similar to Earth's sun have at least one planet.