In a Solar System Not So Far Away

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Someday a team of men and women might board a spaceship and fly the 15 light-years to a small, low-mass star called Gliese 876. In its orbit they'll find a cold planet -- as yet unnamed -- of hydrogen and helium gases so enormous it's twice the mass of Jupiter. Newly discovered by San Francisco State researchers at the Lick Observatory in California, and further researched at the Keck I telescope in Hawaii, it's also the closest planet to our solar system ever found. There isn't another until you look 35 light-years -- 5.9 trillion miles -- away. It's also only the twelfth planet discovered in the universe. Since it formed around a red dwarf such as Gliese 876, the most common type of star in the universe, astronomers suspect there could be many more planets floating in solar neighborhoods near ours.