Hubble discovers new, all-water planet

February 22nd, 2012 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 22 (IANS) A class of planet that is a water world and enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere has been discovered.Astronomers spotted the planet through the Hubble space telescope.

It was revealed by analysing the previously discovered world GJ1214b. The study team was led by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) astronomer Zachory Berta.

Our solar system contains three types of planets: rocky, terrestrial worlds (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn), and ice giants (Uranus and Neptune). Planets orbiting distant stars come in an even wider variety, including lava worlds and “hot Jupiters”, Xinhua reported Tuesday.

The finding was published online Tuesday in the Astrophysical Journal.

“GJ1214b is like no planet we know of,” said Berta in a statement issued Tuesday. “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.”

GJ1214b was discovered in 2009 by the ground-based MEarth Project. 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 1.3 million miles, giving it an estimated temperature of 230 degree Celsius.

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