Author Topic: New type planet discovered  (Read 2306 times)

Devious Viper
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New type planet discovered
« on: September 19, 2006, 04:10:56 AM »
The Orange County Register

Astronomers using small automated telescopes have discovered a new type of planet that is far bigger than Jupiter but weighs half as much and has the density of cork.

"It's baffling. We're never seen anything like it," said Robert Noyes, the Harvard University researcher that led the research team. "We know of rocky planets like Earth and gas giants like Jupiter. But this is different. It's four times lighter than water."

The newly-identified planet, which does not yet have a name, is located about 400 light years from Earth, in constellation Lacerta, where it orbits the binary star ADS16402.

Researchers discovered the planet with wide-field telescopes that scan the skies, looking for stars that dim briefly when a planet passes in front of them, as seen from Earth. The aperture of the telescopes is only five inches -- the kind of instrument used by amateur astronomers.

"If you could hold Jupiter in your hand, it would have the weight of an apple," said David Aguilar, a spokesman for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass. "This new planet would have the weight of a ball of cork. If you put it in a tub, it would float.

The discovery was announced early today at a news conference in which scientists said they also have determined that, over time, Earth has had distinct types of atmosphere. And if they can identify any of those types on another celestial body, they could tell whether the planet does or did host forms of life ranging from bacteria to sizable animals.


Zak Roy Yoballa

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Re: New type planet discovered
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2006, 04:20:59 PM »
I wonder if the plant is just now condensing?  It could get much smaller and gain more mass from the surrounding area.  I can't remember how they calculate the mass of an object like that....  I remember they use a spectrometer to tell the contents of a star and can make good estimates on its mass but I can't remember how they do it with planets.   Damn!

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