Astronomers searching for signs of a Solar System like our own said on Thursday that they had found a planet very similar to Jupiter orbiting a star resembling the Sun, 90 light years away.
"This is the closest we have got to a real Solar System-like planet and advances our search for
systems that are even more like our own," said UK team leader Hugh Jones of Liverpool John Moores University.
The planet was discovered by British, American and Australian astronomers using the 3.9-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales.
With a mass twice that of gas giant Jupiter, the planet circles star HD70642 in the constellation Puppis once every six years.
In relation to its own distance from its star, if it were in the Solar System it would be about half way between Mars and Jupiter.
"The long-term goal of this programme is the detection of true analogues to the Solar System," the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council said in a statement.
"This discovery of a Jupiter-like gas giant planet around a nearby star is a step towards this goal.
"The discovery of other such planets and planetary satellites within the next decade will help astronomers assess the Solar System's place in the galaxy and whether planetary systems like our own are common or rare," it added.