Solar System Like Ours Discovered
Hidden in the huge amount of data gathered by the Kepler Telescope was the observation of a solar system a bit like our own, it consists of seven exoplanets arranged much like our own - rocky close in to the sun and gas giants further out. The system, KOI-351, was detected in early 2013 with three direct observations of planets with orbital periods of 59, 210 and 331 days. However, their orbital periods can vary by as much as 25.7 hours, which at first glance is a little strange. As all of the planets orbit within 1 astronomical unit (the distance of the Sun from the Earth) this variation was suspected to be due to tugs of as of yet unseen inner planets.
Using computer algorithms a team of scientists was able to detect four new planets in the system, bringing the total to seven. The four planets have orbital periods of 7, 9, 92 and 125 days thus making the system very compact. It is as of yet unknown why the system formed this way, and some scientists hypothesise that the system may be young and the planets may migrate outwards over the millions of years to come. It is hoped that an upcoming mission, PLATO, will receive funding and allow the scientists to have a second more detailed look at the system.