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Team Discovers Three Distant Planets

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Oct. 27 (UPI) — Researchers using a telescope in Texas say they have discovered three planets, each orbiting its own giant, dying star.

Using a telescope at the McDonald Observatory 450 miles west of Austin, the team of astronomers led by a Penn State University astronomer observed the stars and their planets tens of light years away from our solar system.

In addition to planets, one of the stars has an additional mystery object orbiting it, team leader Alex Wolszczan said in a Penn State release Wednesday.

That star is accompanied not only by an enormous, Jupiter-like planet but also by a mystery object that could be another planet, a low-mass star, or a brown dwarf — a star-like body that is intermediate in mass between the coolest stars and giant planets, the researchers said.

“We will continue to watch this strange object and, in a few more years, we hope to be able to reveal its identity,” Wolszczan said.

Wolszczan became the first astronomer ever to discover planets outside our solar system in 1992 when he used the 1,000-foot Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico to detect three planets orbiting a rapidly spinning neutron star.

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