KOI-3158 is the closest and brightest multi-planet system detected so far by Kepler, said Campante. The star system is estimated to be 11.2 billion years old, give or take 900 million years or so "which makes KOI-3158 the oldest known system of terrestrial-size planets," Campante told a symposium in France earlier this year.
    
In contrast, our own Sun and solar system is believed to be less than 5 billion years old. The planets circling KOI-3158 are also familiar in terms of their size, with the innermost being about the size of Mercury, followed by three Mars-sized intermediate planets and a fifth and largest planet that is bigger than the other four, but a bit smaller than Venus.
    
"That implies that Earth-sized planets may have readily formed at earlier epochs in the universe's history when metals were more scarce," he said. "KOI-3158, a system of terrestrial-sized planets, formed when the universe was less than 20 per cent of its current age, so that suggests that Earth-sized planets may have formed throughout most of the universe's history, leaving open the possibility for the existence of ancient life in the galaxy," he added. The findings have been submitted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

 

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