Kepler-10c – A Planet With Likely Rocky Surface Found

Monday, June 02, 2014


Astronomers from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have announced the discovery of a new type of planet that is 17 times massive than earth. Astronomers are calling it a mega-earth because unlike Jupiter which is a gaseous planet, it has a rocky terrain.

The new planet found by NASA’s spacecraft Kepler has been named Kepler-10c. Kepler-10c is 560 lightyears away from Earth in the constellation Draco that revolves around a sun-like star once every 45 days. The planet was located by using transit method which looks for a star that dims when a planet passes in front of it. The amount of dimming leads to a conclusive physical size and diameter of the planet, but not the physical form or nature of surface.

At first, scientists assumed that with a diameter of 18,000 miles it was similar to planets known as mini-neptunes as they have thick and gaseous envelopes. But up on measuring its mass with the HARPS-North Instrument on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG), it was shockingly found to be weighing 17 times more than earth. This led to the conclusion that it is a rocky planet that isn’t enveloped with gas. The finding is essential as solid planets prove to be closer at hosting life and the discovery is a major step in the search for life on other planets.

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