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Posts Tagged ‘GJ 1214b’

New ‘waterworld’ planet revealed by Hubble

February 21, 2012 Comments off

sciencecodex.com

GJ1214b, shown in this artist's view, is a super-Earth orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth. New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope show that it is a water world enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. GJ 1214b represents a new type of planet, like nothing seen in the solar system or any other planetary system currently known. (Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Aguilar (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics))

An international team of astronomers led by Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) made the observations of the planet GJ 1214b.

“GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of,” Berta said. “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.”

The ground-based MEarth Project, led by CfA’s David Charbonneau, discovered GJ 1214b in 2009. This super-Earth is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs almost seven times as much. It orbits a red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 2 million kilometres, giving it an estimated temperature of 230 degrees Celsius.

In 2010, CfA scientist Jacob Bean and colleagues reported that they had measured the atmosphere of GJ 1214b, finding it likely that it was composed mainly of water. However, their observations could also be explained by Read more…