'Waterworld' discovered by U.S. astronomers
More than twice the size of Earth, world dominated by water and not rock
The planet is being described as "a waterworld enshrouded by a thick,
steamy atmosphere." The planet is an entirely different kind of planet
dominated by water and not by rock, gas or other common materials.
Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics made the
discovery after scrutinizing the planet with NASA's Hubble Space
Described as a 'super-Earth,' GJ1214b is about 2.7 times Earth's diameter.
Described as a "super-Earth," it is about 2.7 times Earth's diameter.
Continuing studies in 2010 led to scientists suspecting that the planet, where the temperature is some 450 degrees Fahrenheit was largely covered in water. Bertha confirmed this, and his co-authors used the Hubble to study the planet when it crossed in front of its host star.
The light of the star, filtered through the planet's atmosphere, gave clues to the mix of gasses, backing up the water vapor theory.
"The Hubble measurements really tip the balance in favor of a steamy atmosphere," Berta said.
Further measurements and estimates led scientists to conclude that the planet has much more water than Earth and much less rock.
That, together with high temperatures and pressure, likely produce some highly exotic results, including "hot ice," scientists say.
Our solar system contains three basic planet types: rocky, like Earth; gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn; and ice giants like Uranus.
Some other factoids about the freshly discovered planet include the fact that GJ1214b orbits its red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 1.3 million miles. This means that the planet has a steam temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. According to researchers, "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."
In addition, the planet is well-traveled - Theorists believe that GJ1214b formed "farther out from its star," then traveled inward over the course of its history, landing in the system's "habitable zone."
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: GJ1214b, waterworld, planets, astronomy
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