Astronomers find ancient star system with 5 Earth-size planets

Kepler-444 is a recently discovered star with at least five Earth-size planets. The system is 11.2 billion years old. Tiago Campante/Peter Devine

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A newly discovered star system — with five small rocky planets — makes ours look like a baby.

An international team of astronomers announced Tuesday that this system is 11.2 billion years old. With the age of the universe pegged at 13.8 billion years, this is the oldest star with close-to-Earth-size planets ever found.

READ MORE: NASA spots more Earth-like planets out of solar system

By comparison, our solar system is 4.5 billion years old.

The five planets are smaller than Earth. The largest is about the size of Venus, the smallest is just bigger than Mercury. Scientists say these planets orbit their star in less than 10 days, which makes them too close for habitation.

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NASA’s Kepler spacecraft made the observations. The bright sunlike star at the heart of this system is named Kepler-444. It’s in the Constellation Lyre.

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