The European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced this week that a team of scientists have discovered planet similar to Jupiter, orbiting a sun similar to ours. Which means it's possible that the whole solar system mirrors our own.
In a statement, ESO explained that the discovery of Jupiter-like planet HIP1 1915b is important—our solar system looks the way it does in large part because of the gas giant. Per ESO:
According to the most recent theories, the arrangement of our Solar System, so conducive to life, was made possible by the presence of Jupiter and the gravitational influence this gas giant exerted on the Solar System during its formative years.
The scientists who found the Jupiter-like planet orbiting the star HIP 11915 have been looking for this kind of object for several years.
In a brief paper discussing the findings, the researchers conclude that the parallel system could be home to an Earth-like planet, too:
If this signal is truly planetary in origin, the HIP 11915 system is a close analog to the solar system… The presence of a Jupiter twin and a solar-like composition both make HIP 11915 an excellent prospect for future terrestrial planet searches.
But don't get your hopes up for a meeting with human analogs. Even if scientists do detect a parallel Earth, it would still be somewhere in the area of 186 light-years away, or our distance from HIP 11915. It takes about 80,000 years to travel one light-year. Bummer.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.