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Huge 'Godzilla of Earths' discovered


Posted on Tuesday, 3 June, 2014 | Comment icon 36 comments

The planet is the largest rocky world ever found. Image Credit: NASA
Astronomers have identified a planet in a distant solar system that is 17 times the mass of the Earth.
Found using the Kepler space observatory, this gargantuan rocky world has a diameter of 29,000km and orbits an old sun-like star known as Kepler-10 which is approximately 560 light years away.

Its sheer magnitude has baffled scientists as by our current understanding of planet formation it shouldn't be possible for a rocky terrestrial world of such a size to exist.

"A mega-Earth is a lot of solids concentrated in the same place without any gas," said astronomy professor Dimitar Sasselov. "That is a problem because our understanding for how planets form requires the solids to get together in an environment where almost 99 percent of the mass is hydrogen and helium."

Scientists believe that this latest discovery could improve the chances of finding alien life elsewhere in the universe as it suggests that rocky planets can form much sooner than previously thought.

Source: Russia Today | Comments (36)

Tags: Earth, Extrasolar Planet


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #27 Posted by RadicalX on 5 June, 2014, 7:27
maybe its a part of a even larger planet..and this might have broken.or chipped of from the mother planet. this concept would still still rationalize the fact about helium and hydrogen
Comment icon #28 Posted by psyche101 on 5 June, 2014, 7:53
I don't think it ever will be either, that's the nature of science isn't it? It's supposed to be fluid and move with knowledge as it is added to. That process can never end. The universe is massive, there are some things we will never see or know.
Comment icon #29 Posted by taniwha on 5 June, 2014, 9:38
Yes. One logical place to start looking for a Mega~moon would be around a Mega~earth.
Comment icon #30 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 5 June, 2014, 11:09
Almost certainly not. The techniques that are used to discover planets find large planets more easily than less massive ones. If this was the normal size for rocky planets we would be discovering many of them. Also we have a fairly good understanding of how planets form. Massive planets like this usually hold on to a thick atmosphere and become gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn.
Comment icon #31 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 5 June, 2014, 11:11
Except where is the larger planet? It's not in orbit around the star Kepler-10.
Comment icon #32 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 5 June, 2014, 11:12
You didn't understand a single word I posted did you?
Comment icon #33 Posted by taniwha on 5 June, 2014, 18:37
I offered a suggestion to your comment... It is possible that a mega-moon was formed from a mega-earth in the same way our moon was created from our earth.
Comment icon #34 Posted by XenoFish on 6 June, 2014, 0:12
This does make me wonder. If we had full control over gravitational fields we could create an outpost on such a planet. Long term. Enough to terraform that world into something livable. Altering the gravity by .25(in the outpost) every three or so generation. So if the planet has a pull of 20 G then it would take 240 generations (at 3 generation per G increase) to be able to walk on the surface unaided. This would be a long process but the humans would be naturally adapted (hopefully) to survive. Forewarning my math might be wrong. If so, sorry.
Comment icon #35 Posted by paperdyer on 6 June, 2014, 16:10
Here's a slightly different article about this: http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news/2014/06/mega-earth-astrophysicists-find-new-type-planet?et_cid=3980955&et_rid=617257597&type=headline


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