The Curiosity rover, which is designed to explore Mars, has found an ancient oasis on Mars. Researchers working with the Curiosity rover have found salt-enriched…
Scientists have discovered a new type of alien planet.The standard-bearer for this new class of exoplanet is called GJ 1214b, which astronomers first discovered in December 2009.
GJ1214b is a super-Earth orbiting a red-dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). New observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show that it is a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. GJ1214b represents a new type of alien planet, like nothing seen in our solar system or any other planetary system currently known. To date, astronomers have discovered more than 700 alien planet beyond our solar system, with about 2,300 more candidates awaiting confirmation by follow-up observations but according to researchers GJ 1214b, is something new altogether. This so-called super-Earth is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much as our home planet. It orbits a red-dwarf star at a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometres), giving it an estimated surface temperature of 446 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius). Since astronomers know GJ 1214b’s mass and size, they’re able to calculate its density, which turns out to be just 2 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cc). GJ 1214b thus appears to have much more water than Earth does, and much less rock. The alien planet ‘s interior structure is likely quite different from that of our world. Because GJ 1214b is so close to Earth, it’s a prime candidate for study by future instruments. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is slated to launch in 2018, may be able to get an even better look at the alien planet ‘s atmosphere.
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