Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hot and Rocky

Astronomers have found another planet outside our solar system; one different from most of the others.

About 330 of these "exoplanets" have been discovered so far. But most of them have been gas giants similar to Jupiter or Neptune.

"For the first time, we have unambiguously detected a planet that is 'rocky' in the same sense as our own Earth," said Malcolm Fridlund, Corot project scientist from the European Space Agency (Esa).

It has a couple of things in common with earth, and one big difference.

The new find, Corot-Exo-7b, has a diameter less than twice that of Earth and orbits its Sun-like star once every 20 hours.

It orbits very close to its star, and has a high temperature - between 1,000 and 1,500C. This is far too hot for the planet to support life.