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)
Earth, Extrasolar Planet