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K2-229b is an exoplanet, which is very hot and metallic. The exoplanet’s density is similar to Mercury. An Earth-sized planet is located 339 million light years away. A global team of astronomers including the University of Warwick discovered the exoplanet. The exoplanet is nearly 20% larger than Earth. Its mass is over two-and-a-half times bigger and temperature reaches over 2000°C (2330 Kelvin). It is situated very close to its host star (0.012 AU, around a hundredth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun), which itself is a medium-sized active K dwarf in the Virgo Constellation. K2-229b orbits this star every 14 hours. Researchers from Aix-Marseille Université in France Dr David Armstrong and colleagues at the University of Warwick’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Group independently found the planet in the first example, alongside researchers at the Universidade do Porto. They used the K2 telescope to detect and describe this faraway planet. Dr Armstrong and colleagues worked the Doppler spectroscopy technique. This technique is also known as the “wobble method”. The astronomers knew the planet was there due to dips in the light from its host star as it orbited, occasionally blocking starlight. Then they counted the size, position and mass of K2-229b by measuring the radial velocity of the star, and discovering how much the starlight “wobbles” during orbit, owing to the gravitational tug from the planet, which changes depending on the planet’s size. Dr David Armstrong from the University of Warwick’s Astronomy and Astrophysics team said: “Mercury stands out from the other Solar System terrestrial planets, showing a very high fraction of iron and implying it formed in a different way. We were surprised to see an exoplanet with the same high density, showing that Mercury-like planets are perhaps not as rare as we thought.” “Interestingly K2-229b is also the innermost planet in a system of at least 3 planets, though all three orbit much closer to their star than Mercury. More discoveries like this will help us shed light on the formation of these unusual planets, as well as Mercury itself.”