NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Community News Network

June 2, 2014

Astronomers discover rocky gargantuan planet dubbed 'mega-Earth'

A rocky planet weighing 17 times as much as Earth has been found, surprising astronomers who expected it to be a big ball of gas.

Scientists dubbed the planet a "mega-Earth" because its much larger than previously discovered rocky celestial bodies. The planet, sighted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Kepler spacecraft, is located 560 light years from Earth and circles a Sun-like star every 45 days, The finding was reported Monday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston.

Scientists have theorized that a planet that big, formed when heavy elements were scarce in the early days of the universe, couldn't have formed as a solid. They expected to find that the planet, called Kepler-10c, was a gas giant like Jupiter, made up primarily of hydrogen. Instead, when they measured its density with special instruments, they found it weighed more than Earth.

"Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought," said Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Origins of Life Initiative at Harvard University, in a statement. "And if you can make rocks, you can make life."

The new planet is in a system about 11 billion years old, forming less than 3 billion years after the Big Bang, according to the report Monday. The Earth is about 4.54 billion years old.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network

Offbeat
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans