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Astronomers discover first normal exoplanet

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An artist’s impression showing the transiting exoplanet Corot-9b. A ESO Photo by L. Calcada.

BERLIN (BNS): Astronomers have discovered the first “normal” exoplanet that can be studied in great detail.

The research team with the help of CoRoT satellite and ESO HARPS instrument have discovered the first temperate exoplanet.

The planet has been designated Corot-9b. The planet regularly passes in front of a star similar to the Sun located 1500 light-years away from Earth towards the constellation of Serpens.

"This is a normal, temperate exoplanet just like dozens we already know, but this is the first whose properties we can study in depth. It is bound to become a Rosetta stone in exoplanet research," said Claire Moutou, who is part of the international team of 60 astronomers that made the discovery, according to a European Southern Observatory (ESO) news report.

Corot-9b has the size of Jupiter and an orbit similar to that of Mercury and its distance from its host star is about ten times larger than that of any planet previously discovered by this method. The planet also has a temperate climate.

"It may open up a new field of research to understand the atmospheres of moderate- and low-temperature planets, and in particular a completely new window in our understanding of low-temperature chemistry," said co-author Didier Queloz.

More than 400 exoplanets have been discovered so far by the astronomers.

The CoRoT satellite is operated by the French space agency CNES.

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