A scorchingly hot, thick 'Super Earth' discovered by scientists

14 Janvier, 2021, 15:57 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Scientists have discovered a 10 billion year old

One of the oldest stars in the Milky Way galaxy hosts an unusually hot, rocky "super-Earth" planet, a new study reports. It's approximately 50% larger than Earth, but takes half the time to orbit its star given the close proximity between the two.

Astronomers are now trying to understand the relationship between the planet's mass and its radius, as it could help scientists understand the conditions of other planets that are now too distant to be properly studied. It orbits so close to its star that the researchers who discovered it calculated that its surface temperature is more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, turning the top layer of rock into molten magma. "Though this particular planet is unlikely to be inhabited today, it may be a harbinger of many rocky worlds yet to be discovered around our galaxy's oldest stars".

Otherwise known as TYC 243-1528-1, it belongs to a rare population of stars called the Galactic thick disk.

Spiral galaxies like the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy (pictured) have flat disks that contain most of their stars. "Its existence shows that the universe has been forming rocky planets nearly since its inception 14 billion years ago". "I just wonder if any of them have anyone we'd like to talk to".

Monday's press conference at the Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Earth-like planets almost as ancient as our galaxyNASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured nearly 10,000 galaxies in this Ultra Deep Field image. The planet has nearly three times the mass of Earth, but their densities are the same. This is because heavy elements are usually produced by fusion reactions when a star forms, but as time goes on and the stars break down, these elements are disposed and sent off into the universe.

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The researcher points out that older planets have lower density due to the lack of heavy elements available in their formation, unlike typical stars in the Milky Way.

"Gosh, if we've only been around for 5 billion years, imagine what could have happened on a rocky world that's been around for 10 billion years", Weiss said.

The rocky planet orbiting TOI-561 transits its star, meaning that the planet passes in front of its star as seen from Earth, blocking a fraction of the starlight.

The planet was discovered using NASA's planet-hunting TESS mission, which launched in 2018. Another interesting finding in the study of the newly discovered planet is that despite its mass being significantly heavier than Earth, it has a density that is just about the same as that of our home planet.

"If you look for evidence that things existed in the past in addition to the present, you have a bigger chance of finding something", Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb told Insider's Aylin Woodward.

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