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A planet bigger than Jupiter found

tech reviews Updated: Aug 08, 2007 12:32 IST

Astronomers in the US claim to have discovered a giant planet that is 20 times larger than the earth and 1.7 times the diameter of Jupiter - the biggest planet of our solar system.

The scientists also say they are working on the possibility of finding another bigger planet in the same constellation, said the online edition of Channel 4 television channel.

"It's tough. We're not really sure what's going on there. There might actually be another planet in this field, which would be incredible," said Georgi Mandushev, a research scientist at Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Lowell is best known for the 1930 discovery of Pluto, which since has been demoted from planet status.

The new planet the scientists have discovered called TrES-4 is a giant ball made of mostly hydrogen that circles a star 1400 light years away. It has a temperature of 1,260 degrees Celsius.

"There is probably not a really firm surface anywhere on the planet. You would sink into it," Mandushev said. He is the lead author of an article that announced the finding in the peer-reviewed Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Lowell, along with the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory and telescopes in Spain's Canary Islands, discovered the planet circling a star in the constellation Hercules.

Scientists first spotted TrES-4 last spring. Scientists at Caltech, Harvard University and the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii later confirmed the discovery.