Home General Knowledge GK SPECIAL TOPIC : MEGA-EARTH
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 04:09



US space agency NASA has discovered a new type of planet- a rocky world weighing 17 times as much as Earth-called Kepler-10c. The unusual size and features of Kepler-10c make the scientists to put it under a new category i.e. mega-earth.

Kepler-10c, twice the size of Earth, roams around a star that is much like our Sun. it is completing a full orbit of the star in just 20 hours.  It lies some 560 light years away in a constellation called Draco. The radius of Kepler-10c is slightly more than double that of the Earth, and thats why astronomers initially thought it would be a bonsai version of Neptune, the gassy planet that is four times larger than Earth. Kepler-10c was known to have a diameter of about 18,000 miles, 2.3 times as large as Earth. This suggested it fell into a category of planets known as mini-Neptunes, which have thick, gaseous envelopes.

This discovery changes the understandings of the universe and the existence of life in it. The Kepler-10 system of planets is about 11 billion years old; which shows it could have formed less than three billion years after the Big Bang.

As it is commonly known that the early universe contained only hydrogen and helium. In this scenario, any hefty formation would take in hydrogen gas as it grows and become a gas giant. Rocky planets need heavier elements such as silicon and iron as ingredients.

These elements had to be created in the first generations of stars. That is, when these stars exploded, scientists say, they sprayed these elements through the space, helping build future planets and stars. This should have taken billions of years.