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Hot, Earth-Sized Exoplanet Found by Astronomers

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Astronomers this week revealed that the mass of exoplanet Kepler 78b has been determined. The planet, located 400 light-year away in orbit around the star Kepler 78, has a mass of around 1.7 times that of Earth. The planet also has a radius just 1.2 times that of Earth and its density is also similar to Earth’s. The new research appeared this week in the journal Nature.

These measurements make Kepler 78b the smallest planet outside our solar system to have had both its mass and size measured. Researchers believe the new data suggests the planet is made of mostly rock and iron – a composition similar to that of the Earth’s.

Though Kepler 78b resembles Earth in many ways, there is no chance that humans would ever be able to live there. The planet is located very close to its host star, orbiting it once very 8.5 hours. At that range, Astronomers say, the planet is sure to have extremely hot temperatures unsuitable for life.

“It’s Earth-like in the sense that it’s about the same size and mass, but of course it’s extremely unlike the Earth in that it’s at least 2,000 degrees hotter,” said Josh Winn, a co-author on the paper and an associate professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s a step along the way of studying truly Earth-like planets.”

Astronomers were able to measure the mass of Kepler 78b by measuring its Doppler effect it has on Kepler 78. For eight straight days a team led by astronomer Andrew Howard of the University of Hawaii used the school’s Keck Observatory to analyze the star. Their measurements are backed up by a second paper published in Nature this week by a separate group of astronomers.

(Image courtesy NASA/David A. Aguilar)

Hot, Earth-Sized Exoplanet Found by Astronomers
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  • Yep

    I like articles on space. There is definitely life out there. My God, people think we are the center of the universe or even the galaxy but in reality, earth is like a backwater planet on the fringe of a very ordinary galaxy. There is a really great video by Louie Giglio that I recommend people watch. Oddly, it is a Christian video that shows how great God is by looking at science. What I like about it is that it puts everything in perspective. It compares the relative size of earth to other planets. I don’t have any answers out there for people. All I know is that everything in nature is done by intelligent design. Everything. Things work in such harmony. If there is intelligent design, there has to be a designer. I am Catholic and there is a reason why the Catholic church looks to the heavens. Heck, we even have our own observatory. God created all kinds of life.

    Don’t ask me how it all fits together. I don’t know. The older I get the more I realize is that faith is all about trust. You just have to trust in Christ. Really, the truth of how everything works is beyond human comprehension. There could be a million different alien races out there, but that doesn’t change the fact that what Christ told us is true. That how he told us to live is true. I know Christ is right about everything and at the same time, I wonder so much about what is out there. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we did find life out there and they too have religions similar to ours?

    I like these articles.

  • john

    so far 0 for billions invested to search for life ,zero planets that hold living blood creations , yet they show the glory of god

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