The alien planet is six times larger than the Earth. Image Credit: NAOJ
Astronomers have identified a nearby extrasolar planet with a particularly unusual atmosphere.
Gliese 1214 b is approximately six times the size of the Earth and while it does have water in its atmosphere it exists in a peculiar plasma-like state unlike anything ever observed before.
Scientists made the discovery using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii by observing the scattering of light from the planet and combining their findings with previous results. "At high pressure and high temperature, the behavior of water is quite different from that on the Earth," said principle investigator Norio Narita.
Gliese 1214 b is located about 40 light years away and orbits its parent star at a distance that's 70 times closer than the Earth is to the sun, resulting in an orbital period of just 38 hours.
The close proximity means that the surface is a scorching 280 degrees Celsius, conditions that when combined with high surface pressures make the planet highly inhospitable and a very unlikely place to find evidence of alien life.
Source: Discovery News | Comments (3)