It's OK to Stare: Scientists OGLE New Planets
The two planets were revealed when the star they orbit crossed in front of a more distant star as seen from Earth. For a two-week period from late March through early April of 2006, the nearer star magnified the light shining from the farther star.
The phenomenon is called gravitational microlensing, and this was a particularly dramatic example: the light from the more distant star was magnified 500 times.
The Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) first detected the event, dubbed OGLE-2006-BLG-109, on March 28, 2006. The Microlensing Follow Up Network (MicroFUN), led by Andrew Gould, professor of astronomy at Ohio State, then joined with OGLE to organize astronomers worldwide to gather observations of it. Andrzej Udalski, professor of astronomy at Warsaw University Observatory, is the leader of OGLE.
These planetary "siblings" are about 80 percent as big as our gas giants and orbit a star that's about half the size of the sun.
What's more, the smaller planet lies about twice as far from its star as the larger one, just as Saturn is twice as far from the sun as Jupiter.
"The interesting thing about this system is that it looks very similar to our own solar system, but scaled down," said team leader Scott Gaudi, an astronomer at Ohio State University.