Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO WORLDS
'Godzilla' of Earths circles distant star
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 02, 2014


Kepler spots 'mega-Earth' orbiting alien sun
Boston (UPI) Jun 2, 2013 - NASA's Kepler telescope has helped astronomers located another exoplanet, and its a big one. So big, in fact, that scientists had to create a new category to house it. At 17-times the mass of Earth, Kepler's latest discovery is the only "mega-Earth."

Scientists have previously discovered "super-Earths," planets roughly ten-times the mass of Earth. But most astronomers assumed planets any bigger would be gas giants like Jupiter.

But Kepler-10c -- announced Monday at the 224th American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston -- isn't gaseous, it's rocky.

"This is the Godzilla of Earths!" said Dimitar Sasselov, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and the director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative. "But unlike the movie monster, Kepler-10c has positive implications for life."

The exoplanet boasts a diameter of about 18,000 miles, which makes it 2.3-times bigger than Earth. But Kepler-10c weighs 17 times as much, thanks to its super dense rocky core.

The researchers at CfA -- who use information collected by Kepler to find and study potential life-sustaining exoplanets -- say Kepler-10c and the rest of its solar system is roughly 11 billion years old, meaning it formed less than 3 billion years after the Big Bang.

"Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought," Sasselov said. "And if you can make rocks, you can make life."

Still, Kepler-10c itself is highly unlikely to harbor living organisms. It's much too close to its parent star, a red dwarf that lies 560 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Draco. The surface of Kepler-10c is likely roasted from its close proximity to its sun.

Astronomers have spotted the "Godzilla" of all Earths, a huge rocky planet orbiting a star 560 light years away that is changing scientists' understanding of the origins of the universe.

This new mega-Earth weighs 17 times as much as our planet, and was found by NASA's Kepler mission, experts said at a meeting in Boston of the American Astronomical Society.

The new discovery, named Kepler 10c, is 18,000 miles (29,000 kilometers) wide or 2.3 times the size of the Earth.

"We were very surprised when we realized what we had found," said astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Until now, astronomers did not think a rocky planet could get so large, because its growing girth would make it collect more hydrogen gas and turn it into a gas-giant, like Jupiter.

"This is the Godzilla of Earths!" said researcher Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative.

"But unlike the movie monster, Kepler-10c has positive implications for life."

The US space agency's planet-hunting Kepler mission can only spot planets and classify them based on the number of times they pass in front of their star. It cannot reveal much about whether they are rocky or gassy.

What lifted Kepler-10c out of the category of super-Earths and mini-Neptunes -- planets outside our solar system that are larger than Earth and smaller than dense, gassy Neptune -- was a special telescope in the Canary Islands which measured its mass.

"Kepler-10c didn't lose its atmosphere over time. It's massive enough to have held onto one if it ever had it," said Dumusque.

"It must have formed the way we see it now."

Since Kepler-10c is far denser than expected, that puts it in a new class, which more planets are likely to join once discovered, experts said.

Kepler-10c, circles its Sun-like star once every 45 days, suggesting it is likely too hot for life to survive.

It is located in a planetary system that is also home to Kepler 10b, a lava-world that spins around in a fast 20-hour orbit.

The Kepler-10 system is some 11 billion years old, and formed less than three billion years after the Big Bang, scientists said.

That means that somehow, the universe was able to form massive rocks even when heavy elements like silicon and iron were scarce. The early universe was made of only hydrogen and helium.

"Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought. And if you can make rocks, you can make life," said Sasselov.

.


Related Links
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EXO WORLDS
Why Does Earth Have No Super-Earth Cousins?
Moffet Field CA (SPX) May 30, 2014
New discoveries of many super-Earth planets orbiting very close to sun-like stars have started to make Earth's solar system look a little lonely. The mystery of why Earth ended up without any super-Earth cousins continues to puzzle astronomers as they try to better understand the unusual history of the Solar System and the evolution of planets in general. The uniqueness of our solar system ... read more


EXO WORLDS
Earth's gravitational pull stretches moon surface

NASA Missions Let Scientists See Moon's Dancing Tide From Orbit

Water in moon rocks provides clues and questions about lunar history

NASA Invites Public to Select Favorite Moon Image for Lunar Orbiter Anniversary Collection

EXO WORLDS
LDSD Testing for Large Payloads to Mars

New Mars Lander to Probe Interior of Red Planet

A habitable environment on Martian volcano

Mars Curiosity rover may have transported Earth bacteria to Mars

EXO WORLDS
SpaceX founder unveils his 'future of space travel' capsule

First Phase To Certify New US Space Transport System Completed

NASA faces identity crisis, funding battle

US may lose 'star wars' to Russia

EXO WORLDS
Chinese lunar rover alive but weak

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover 'alive but struggling'

Chinese space team survives on worm diet for 105 days

Moon rover Yutu comes closer to public

EXO WORLDS
Russian Soyuz with New Crew Docks at ISS in Automatic Mode

Russian, German and US astronauts dock with ISS

Six-Person Station Crew Enjoys Day Off Following Docking

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst arrives at ISS

EXO WORLDS
SpaceX unveils capsule to ferry astronauts to space

Roscosmos Scolded for 'Pestering Society' with Proton Crash Theories

Elon Musk to present manned DragonV2 spacecraft on May 29

Russia puts satellite in orbit from sea platform after 2013 flop

EXO WORLDS
'Godzilla' of Earths circles distant star

Astronomers find a new type of planet: The 'mega-Earth'

Because you can't eat just one: Star will swallow two planets

'Neapolitan' exoplanets come in three flavors

EXO WORLDS
Russia preparing to launch Okno space surveillance system at full capacity

Citizen Scientists Contact Vintage Spacecraft

New Method of Wormlike Motion Lets Gels Wiggle through Water

Stronger than steel




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.