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Earth-like planet discovered

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Hum    6,933

(SPACE.com) -- In a discovery that has left one expert stunned, European astronomers have found one of the smallest planets known outside our solar system, a world about 14 times the mass of our own around a star much like the sun.

It could be a rocky planet with a thin atmosphere, a sort of "super Earth," the researchers said today.

But this is no typical Earth. It completes its tight orbit in less than 10 days, compared to the 365 required for our year. Its daytime face would be scorched.

The planet's surface conditions aren't known, said Portuguese researcher Nuno Santos, who led the discovery. "However, we can expect it to be quite hot, given the proximity to the star."

Hot as in around 1,160 degrees Fahrenheit (900 Kelvin), Santos said.

Still, the discovery is a significant advance in technology: No planet so small has ever been detected around a normal star. And the finding reveals a solar system more similar to our own than anything found so far.

The star is like our sun and just 50 light-years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). Most of the known extrasolar planets are hundreds or thousands of light-years distant.

The star, mu Arae, is visible under dark skies from the Southern Hemisphere. It harbors two other planets. One is Jupiter-sized and takes 650 days to make its annual trip around the star. The other planet, whose existence was confirmed with the help of the new observations, is farther out.

The three-planet setup, with one being rocky, is unique.

"It's much closer to our solar system than anything we've found so far," said Alan Boss, a planet-formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington.

"This really is an exciting discovery," said Boss, who was not involved in the work. "I'm still somewhat stunned they have such good data."

The discovery was made with a European Southern Observatory telescope at La Silla, Chile, working at the verge of what's possible to detect.

Most of the more than 120 planets found beyond our solar system are gaseous worlds as big or larger than Jupiter, mostly in tight orbits that would not permit a rocky planet to survive.

At 14 times the mass of Earth, the newfound planet -- circling a star similar in size and brightness to our sun -- is about as heavy as Uranus, a world of gas and ice and the smallest giant planet in our solar system. Theorists say 14 Earth-masses is roughly the upper limit for a planet to possibly remain rocky, however. And because this planet is so close to its host star, it likely had a much different formation history than Uranus.

In our solar system, the four innermost planets are all rocky.

"This object is therefore likely to be a planet with a rocky core surrounded by a small gaseous envelope and would therefore qualify as a super-Earth," the European team said in a statement.

While researchers do not know the full range of conditions under which life can survive, the newly discovered world, with its hot surface, is not the sort of place biologists would expect to find life as we know it.

Santos said life on the large world is not likely. But, he added, "one never knows."

full story:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/08/26/n...anet/index.html

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zatrix    0

without reading the whole article

But this is no typical Earth. It completes its tight orbit in less than 10 days, compared to the 365 required for our year. Its daytime face would be scorched.

The planet's surface conditions aren't known, said Portuguese researcher Nuno Santos, who led the discovery. "However, we can expect it to be quite hot, given the proximity to the star."

Hot as in around 1,160 degrees Fahrenheit (900 Kelvin), Santos said.

makes me ask "so how exactly is it anything like earth?" and stop reading

like i did :sleep:

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OPaul    0

Yea, exactly. I thought the same. This planet seems nothing like Earth at all.

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Foub    0

They used the wrong term, it should be 'terrestrial planet' instead of 'Earth-like' since this is sort of misleading.

terrestrial planet

1. A planet having a compact rocky surface like the Earth's; the four innermost planets in the solar system

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zatrix    0
They used the wrong term, it should be 'terrestrial planet' instead of 'Earth-like' since this is sort of misleading.

terrestrial planet

1. A planet having a compact rocky surface like the Earth's; the four innermost planets in the solar system

and i wonder why they made that "mistake" :ninja:

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Foub    0
and i wonder why they made that "mistake" :ninja:

Maybe they didn't want to confuse the average person out there? :)

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zatrix    0
Maybe they didn't want to confuse the average person out there? :)

naw its all a ploy to convince the people to look the other way when administrations add more funding for research of "other" planets

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ootput    4

:rolleyes: @ False advertising

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Mantra Locust    0

I always find news like this facinating. Good find. :)

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jackwanders    0

They later dubbed the planet 'Texas'.

It's hot, rocky, and everything's bigger.

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threetonesun    1,204

I know we have global warming, but hopefully we're not heading for 1,000+ degrees Farenheit anytime soon.

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ootput    4
They later dubbed the planet 'Texas'.

It's hot, rocky, and everything's bigger.

:p

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zatrix    0
I know we have global warming, but hopefully we're not heading for 1,000+ degrees Farenheit anytime soon.

global warming? if u ask me weather is getting colder

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OPaul    0
global warming? if u ask me weather is getting colder

I wish.

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Hum    6,933

:laugh: I think they found the planet Krypton.

But seriously, I think the main point of the story is, this is the closest to an Earth as has been discovered.

And remember, Science has been wrong about their conclusions of other planets before. Would not be suprising to be way off about a planet 50 lightyears from us.

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Foub    0
global warming? if u ask me weather is getting colder

Actually, that is part of global warming as well. The Earth's weather is driven by heat and thus when patterns are messed up places which were warm could become cold and vice versa.

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Glowstick    3

Actually the biggest problem with global warming could become the melting of the polar cap on north.

Now you might say "Bull****, when the ice melts, the ocean level doesn't raise, Physics 101!". Yeah, that's true, but when these ice bergs do the state change from solid to liquid, the water won't be automatically 30?C. The issue here is that cold water flows to the atlantic and could cool down the gulf streams. If that happens, the weather is ****** royally.

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Joel    26
Actually the biggest problem with global warming could become the melting of the polar cap on north.

Now you might say "Bull****, when the ice melts, the ocean level doesn't raise, Physics 101!". Yeah, that's true, but when these ice bergs do the state change from solid to liquid, the water won't be automatically 30?C. The issue here is that cold water flows to the atlantic and could cool down the gulf streams. If that happens, the weather is ****** royally.

It's about time someone else said that. I've always laughed at people who say the coastlines will be wiped out.

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XP_01    0

I've heard about this planet too, but on tv they said it was a planet 10x bigger than Jupiter and Gas-like. It also orbited it's sun in 10 days in a very near orbit...... But it isn't very new. I think 2001 or something?

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Glowstick    3
It's about time someone else said that. I've always laughed at people who say the coastlines will be wiped out.

Well, as long we talk only and really only about the north pole, then the coastlines won't be affected at all. Glaciers and the Antarctica are different issues. Glaciers are bigass amounts of ice on a mountain, and the melt water ends up in the sea at some point. And the Antarctica is a continent, probably most of the landmass would be submerged meanwhile (unlike millions of years ago), but not deep enough in the water as the actual ice masses would sink if the ground wasn't there, so the excess ice would raise the level, when it melts.

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