December 21, 2014
Astronomers discover 'Godzilla of Earths,' 17 times heavier than our own planet
Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have confirmed the finding of a new type of planet with experts already calling it the “Godzilla of Earths.” The rocky world weighs 17 times as much as our very own Earth.
“We were very surprised when we realized what we had found," astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the CfA, who led the data analysis and made the discovery, said.
According to scientists, the discovery contradicts previous theories that said such a world couldn't form because anything so hefty would grab hydrogen gas as it grew and become a Jupiter-like gas giant. But they were wrong.
“This is the Godzilla of earths. But unlike the monster in the movie, this has positive implications for life,” director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative researcher Dimitar Sasselov explained.
The newfound mega-Earth, Kepler-10c, circles a sunlike star once every 45 days. It is located about 560 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco.
The system also hosts a 3-Earth-mass "lava world," Kepler-10b, in a remarkably fast, 20-hour orbit.
The new “mega-Earth” finding was announced today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).