Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

'Hellish' exoplanet has Earth-like mass: research
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Oct 30, 2013

An Earth-sized planet far beyond our Solar System has been found to have a similar mass to our planet, said researchers Wednesday engaged in the hunt for other habitable worlds.

While Kepler-78b is not a hospitable place, with surface temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Celsius (3,600 degrees Fahrenheit), confirmation of its mass and density was hailed as a good omen for the discovery of other Earth-like planets.

In separate papers in the journal Nature, two groups of scientists said they had independently measured Kepler-78b's mass -- one team put it at 1.69 times that of Earth and the other at 1.86 times.

Their calculations of the exoplanet's density were 5.3 and 5.57 grams per cubic centimetre, respectively -- also similar to Earth's 5.5 grams and implying a composition of rock and iron.

This made Kepler-78, which orbits its star every 8.5 hours, the exoplanet most similar to Earth for which the mass, radius and density has been determined.

"Its existence bodes well for the discovery and characterisation of habitable planets," Drake Deming of the University of Maryland's astronomy department wrote in a comment on the papers, also carried by Nature.

The study of exoplanets, those beyond our Solar System, is aimed at finding possibly habitable Earth-like planets orbiting Sun-like stars.

Most of the exoplanets identified at first were gas giants orbiting at scorchingly-close distances to their stars -- that is until NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, launched in 2009, started discovering thousands of rocky and icy exoplanets.

The size of these planets is measured by the amount of light they block when they pass in front of their parent star, and Kepler has revealed that Earth-sized planets are "abundant" in our Galaxy, wrote Deming.

But a planet's composition is much more difficult to determine.

In the case of Kepler-78b, its proximity to its host star made it easier to measure the "Doppler shift" effect it exerted -- influencing the star's motion with its gravitational force.

"But that boost of the Doppler signal comes at the price of a hellish environment," wrote Deming.

"A view from the surface of Kepler-78b would be dominated by the blazing disk of the star filling about half of the sky from horizon to zenith. According to current understanding, the chances of life in such an environment are nil."

In order to host life, and allow water to flow in liquid form, a planet must be at a distance from its star that allows surface temperatures to be neither too hot nor too cold.

Nevertheless, Kepler-78b is an "encouraging sign" in the search for extrasolar habitable worlds -- not least because it showed there were other planets like Earth composed of rock and iron.

Kepler-78b "foreshadows leaps forward in the search for life beyond the Solar System," said Deming.

In January, astronomers using the Kepler telescope said the Milky Way contained at least 17 billion planets the size of Earth, and likely many more.


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 DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

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

New planet found around distant star could be record-breaker
Oxford, England (UPI) Oct 25, 2013
The discovery of a seventh planet around a distant star makes it one the richest planetary systems yet discovered, European astronomers say. The discovery at the dwarf star KIC 11442793, reported by two separate teams of researchers, could be a record, they said. One of the identifications was credited to volunteers using the Planet Hunters website set up to allow citizen scienti ... read more

Crowdfunded Lunar Spacecraft Reaches Funding Milestone

LADEE Continues To Settle Into Operational Lunar Orbit

NASA's moon landing remembered as a promise of a 'future which never happened'

Russia could build manned lunar base

India Prepares for Mars Mission

Curiosity Mars Rover Approaches 'Cooperstown'

Indian space head braced for tricky Mars challenge

NASA to probe why Mars lost its atmosphere

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Comes to Life

Flights of Fancy

NewSpace Business Plan Competition 2013 Winners Announced

NASA Engages the Public to Discover New Uses for Out-of-this-World Technologies

China launches experimental satellite Shijian-16

China Moon Rover A New Opportunity To Explore Our Nearest Neighbor

Is China Challenging Space Security

NASA's China policy faces mounting pressure

ATV-4: all good missions must come to an end

European cargo freighter undocks from ISS

European cargo freighter to undock from ISS

Cygnus cargo craft leaves international space station

ILS Proton Launches Sirius FM-6 Satellite

Boeing Finalizes Agreement for Kennedy Space Center Facility

Russia Plans to Spend $22M on Soyuz-2 Launch Pad

Ariane 5 arrives at the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building for payload installation

'Hellish' exoplanet has Earth-like mass: research

Carbon Worlds May be Waterless

Planets rich in carbon could be poor in water, reducing life chances

New planet found around distant star could be record-breaker

Historic Demonstration Proves Laser Communication Possible

UNC neuroscientists discover new 'mini-neural computer' in the brain

Birthing a new breed of materials

Unique chemistry in hydrogen catalysts

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal 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