facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Hubble telescope sees new type of planet

Feb. 21, 2012 at 1:43 PM   |   Comments

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The Hubble Space Telescope has found a new type of planet outside our solar system, a water world covered by a thick, steamy atmosphere, U.S. astronomers say.

A team of astronomers led by Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics made the observations of the planet GJ 1214b, about 2.7 times Earth's diameter and weighing almost seven times as much.

It orbits a red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 1.2 million miles, giving it an estimated temperature of 446 degrees Fahrenheit, a release from the center reported Tuesday.

"GJ1214b is like no planet we know of," Berta said. "A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water."

The planet's density is only slighter greater than that of water, and much less than Earth's, astronomers said.

This suggests GJ 1214b has much more water than Earth does, and much less rock, they said.

The internal structure of GJ 1214b would be extraordinarily different from that of our world as a result, Berta said.

"The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like 'hot ice' or 'superfluid water,' substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience," he said.

GJ 1214b is located in the constellation of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, just 40 light-years from Earth.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth
2
Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space
3
Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time
4
Astronomers discover worst-smelling comet in space Astronomers discover worst-smelling comet in space
5
Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback