Astronomers Discover New Type of Planet- The 'Mega-Earth'

Recently astrophysicists proclaimed that they have detected a new type of planet, a rocky world weighing 17 times as much as Earth. Theoreticians supposed such a world couldn't form because whatever so heavy would grasp hydrogen gas as it grew and convert to a Jupiter-like gas giant. This planet, however, is all solids and much greater than earlier discovered "super-Earths," making it a "Mega-Earth." Astrophysicist Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), who directed the data examination and made the discovery, says "We were very surprised when we realized what we had found”
Image Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

CfA scientist Dimitar Sasselov, administrator of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative adds "This is the Godzilla of Earths! But unlike the movie monster, Kepler-10c has positive implications for life." The team's discovery was offered recently in a press session at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). The brand-new mega-Earth, Kepler-10c, orbits a sun like star once every 45 days. It is situated about 560 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco. The system also harbors a 3-Earth-mass "lava world," Kepler-10b, in a strangely fast at 20-hour of orbit.

Kepler-10c was initially detected by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. Kepler finds planets using the transit method, observing for a star that dims when a planet passes in front of it. By determining the extent of dimming, astronomers can compute the planet's physical size or diameter. Though, Kepler can't tell whether a planet is rocky or gassy.

Read More at Phys.Org.

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Astronomers Discover New Type of Planet- The 'Mega-Earth' Astronomers Discover New Type of Planet- The 'Mega-Earth' Reviewed by Umer Abrar on 6/03/2014 Rating: 5

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