Earth-like Kepler 78b exoplanet under scrutiny from scientists

Oct 31, 2013
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Earth-like Kepler 78b exoplanet under scrutiny from scientists

Scientists have discovered an interesting exoplanet about 700 light years away from the Earth residing in the constellation Cygnus. The planet is called Kepler 78b and is similar in mass and size to the Earth. Scientists also believe Kepler 78b is composed of rock and iron, just like the Earth.

One member of the team studying the planet named Josh Winn, an associate professor of physics at MIT said:

It's Earth-like in the sense that it's about the same size and mass, but of course it's extremely unlike the Earth in that it's at least 2,000 degrees hotter. It's a step along the way of studying truly Earth-like planets.

Kepler 78b also orbits around its star much faster than the Earth orbits the Sun. Kepler 78b needs only 8.5 hours to orbit its star compared to the 365 days the Earth requires. Scientists believe the planet has a mass about 1.7 times that of the Earth. Temperatures on the surface of the planet are so extreme that scientists believe it's unlikely any type of life can thrive.

To discover the planet, scientists analyzed the light given off by the star as the planet passes in front of the star. Each time the planet transits the star, the light output dips and a decrease in light output is measured to determine the planet's size. Scientists used the Keck observatory in Hawaii to analyze the light output from the planet's star for eight days.

The scientists say that light from the planets host star was very faint making the process very difficult. Details of the research into Kepler 78b were published in the science publication Nature this week.

SOURCE: Fox News


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