A newly discovered planet has been discovered in the constellation Draco is being compared to Earth, only hotter. The Godzilla Earth, as astronomers are referring to it, is a mega-Earth planet that is much larger and revolves around its star at a much faster clip.
During a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Boston today, Harvard astronomers talked about the newly discovered mega-Earth that they are calling the “Godzilla of Earths.” They shared their surprise at their finding and provided details about the planet. It is comparable to Earth in some ways, but is hotter and unlivable.
Kepler-10c, the mega-Earth planet, was officially discovered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. It is located roughly 560 light-years from Earth. It spans 18,000 miles wide, which is 2.3 times bigger than Earth. It weighs roughly 17 times more than Earth does. It is made up of rocks and solids. Godzilla Earth is proof that planets made up of solids were formed earlier than astronomers once thought. It turns out that it was big enough to retain its mass and not turn into gases. They believe the mega-Earth planet was formed 11 billion years ago.
While astronomers are comparing Kepler-10c to Earth because of its massive size, it is not the same as Earth and is uninhabitable. First of all, it is too hot to live on it. Second, it has about 10 times as much water content and third, it is too close to its star to create a livable surface. It orbits the star, much like our sun, once every 45 days.
They were not sure how it formed, however, since it is not normal for a planet of this size to retain its mass and avoid turning to gases. Observations were made from the Canary Islands using a HARPS-North instrument on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo to learn more about it and confirm that it is made of solids.
Xavier Dumusque, the man who initially discovered Godzilla Earth is from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA.) He said, “We were very surprised when we realized what we had found.” He is excited about the newly discovered planet and impressed by its size. “This is the Godzilla of Earths!” he added.
Just how this Godzilla Earth managed to reach it’s mega-Earth size is a mystery to astronomers. They are not sure how it reached this massive size without leaving a trail of gases. Typically the gases are vacuumed up in space. One theory is that the newly found planet was formed from a collision of two smaller planets, but there is no evidence of this.
What is interesting is that the Kepler-10c, now being called Godzilla Earth, is not the only newly discovered planet in space. A similar, yet smaller, rocky planet known as the Kepler-10b was found in 2011. It is relatively small, at only three times heavier than the Earth. Known as the “lava planet,” this smaller planet could also be livable it it were not for its intense temperature.
By Tracy Rose