Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Super-Earth: Probably With Water, Possibly With Strange Chemistry

"Nearby Super-Earth May Be a Waterworld" (December 16, 2009)

"A rocky and water-rich planet, not much heftier than our own, has been discovered so close to our solar system that astronomers one day may be able to study its atmosphere.

"And though astronomers are pretty certain the water exists, they don't know its state, with speculations ranging from liquid water to water ice and an exotic state called a superfluid.

"The extrasolar planet, now named GJ 1214b, is about 40 light-years away. It orbits a red dwarf star. It is the only known 'Super-Earth' exoplanet — worlds that have masses between Earth and Neptune — with a confirmed atmosphere...."

It helps that GJ 1214b is one of the few known exoplanets to pass between its star and Earth - making it possible to measure its diameter and, with the diameter and mass known, its density.

What we don't know - yet - is how hot GJ1214b is. There's a chance it may be to hot for liquid water to exist. At least, not the sort of liquid water we're familiar with. Under extreme pressure and heat, water can go directly from ice to a sort of exotic superfluid. Which may be happening on GJ1214b. Or, the planet may have liquid water under its massive hydrogen and helium atmosphere.

And no, odds are that there's no life on the planet - as we know it or otherwise.

Still, an interesting place.
Related posts, at

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

Pinterest: From the Man Behind the Lemming

Top 10 Most-Viewed Posts

Today's News! Some of it, anyway

Actually, some of yesterday's news may be here. Or maybe last week's.
The software and science stuff might still be interesting, though. Or not.
The Lemming thinks it's interesting: Your experience may vary.
("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Who Follows the Lemming?


Family Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory