Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Inspiring Boom in "Super-Earths"

Workers at Astrotech's Hazardous Processing Facility in Titusville, Florida, mount the Kepler spacecraft on a stand for fueling. Image courtesy of NASA/TM Jacobs

From Discover Magazine:

At last we are finding rocky planets like our own. But some are pretty weird: The smallest may have a mineral-vapor atmosphere that condenses as lava rain or rock snow.

A recently discovered planet with the unpoetic name Corot-7b, orbiting a yellow-orange star 450 light-years away, is the smallest confirmed super-Earth—a dense, compact planet unlike the many gas giants spotted elsewhere in our galaxy. This find hints that the universe may teem with rocky worlds, including some that may genuinely resemble ours in size and temperature.

Read more ....

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