In a first for space exploration, an international group of scientists in Chile's European Southern Observatory have identified a solar system reportedly similar to our own, complete with a "twin" Jupiter revolving a Sun-like star.
A Brazilian-led team in La Silla, on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert, made the remarkable discovery using the Harps planet-hunting instrument on a 3.6-metre ESO telescope. The planet is of a similar mass to Jupiter and similarly orbits a Sun-like star astronomers have dubbed HIP 11915. The star is located in the distant Cetus constellation, about 200 light years away.
"[The discovery] was Jupiter's twin planet orbiting a star like the Sun. It's at the same distance that we have to Jupiter and our sun and it's on the same orbit - 10 years and a half more or less. Jupiter's orbit of our sun is 12 years. So, this system is very probably a twin (solar) system to our system," said astronomer, Bruno Dias.
A twin Jupiter and Sun will throw new light on the study of planetary systems. According to recent studies, the layout of our planet system with the support of gas giants like Jupiter and its gravitational force is conducive to life.
Finding a twin Jupiter is a crucial step forward to astronomers finding a new Milky Way.
"Jupiter is a planet that is crucial to understanding planetary formation. So, it is very important if we try to find our twin (solar) systems to understand if the planetary formation that we have in our solar system is something more general or is it more specific to our [solar] system," added Dias.
A possible Milky Way 2.0 has long thrilled astronomers, hinting at the possibility that we are not alone.