Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New Alien Planet Found

Exoplanet with Border

Smallest Extrasolar Planet Found

BBC News
6-13-05
     Astronomers have detected the smallest extrasolar planet yet: a world about seven and a half times as massive as Earth, orbiting a star much like ours.

     All of the 150 or so exoplanets found orbiting normal stars are larger than Uranus, itself 15 times Earth's mass.

     The new find may be the first rocky world found around a star like our Sun.

     The newly discovered "super-Earth" orbits the star Gliese 876, located 15 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Aquarius.

      This star also has two larger, Jupiter-size planets orbiting it.

     The new planet whips around the star in a mere two days, and is so close to the star's surface that its temperature probably tops 200-400C 400-750F) - oven-like temperatures, far too hot for life as we know it.

     The planet was discovered using the familiar "wobble technique": the planet's gravitational tug on its parent star produces changes in the star's velocity. This can be picked up in the light spectrum emitted by the star.

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