NASA: Waterworld extrasolar new super-Earth planet GJ 1214b seen by Hubble Space Telescope

By on Feb 22, 2012 in Astronomy, Europe, Science, United States, World Comments

A so-called new extrasolar waterworld planet called GJ 1214b was recently seen using the Hubble Space Telescope, which is being dubbed as a super-Earth planet notable since it is larger than Earth but smaller than Uranus.

Artist’s sketch of new waterworld planet GJ 1214b
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/D. Aguilar (Harvard-
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

According to a press release by NASA on its official website on Tuesday, February 21, 2012, NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have come up with a vision of the new planet GJ 1214b, which was first discovered in December 2009.

As noted by NASA, the new waterworld planet is a super-Earth orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth that is being enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere; and is one of a kind in our solar system or to any other known planetary system.

The study, which was also published at journal Astrophysical, was made by an international team of astronomers led by Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), with the ground-based MEarth Project being led by CfA‘s David Charbonneau.

GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of. A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water. We’re using Hubble to measure the infrared color of sunset on this world.” Berta was quoted in the report.

Apparently, Berta was referring to Hubble‘s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) which was used by one of his colleagues Derek Homeier of ENS Lyon, France, when planet GJ 1214b crossed in front of its host star.

“The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like ‘hot ice’ or ‘superfluid water’, substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience.” Berta added, suggesting that planet GJ 1214b has much more water than Earth does but with lesser rocks.

Meanwhile, this new waterworld planet was said to be 2.7 times the Earth‘s diameter and weighs almost seven times heavier, and orbits a red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 2 million kilometers, and has an estimated temperature of 230 degrees Celsius.

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