This week, astronomers found a planet made up almost entirely of rock. The planet was discovered using the Space Telescope, Kepler, hence the planets new name, Kepler-10c.
Kepler-10c is the first rocky planet discovered outside of our solar system, residing nearly 560 light years away from us in constellation Draco. This new planet challenges scientists because of its relatively small but dense nature.
By calculating the speed at which the planet orbits its sun, scientists have determined that the planet is just as heavy as Neptune, however much smaller in size. Not only is this planet almost entirely solid, but, unlike any other planet, it is not surrounded by any gaseous elements.
Most planets are created from a disk of gas and dust and a planet as large as Kepler-10c possesses such a massive amount of gravity that it should have collected enough gas to become a giant gas planet similar to Jupiter. Some other scientists believe this planet could be the result of smaller masses colliding and becoming one, and that could explain the absence of gas as well as the dense mass of the planet.
This discovery is amazing regardless of the debate on its formation, this new planet opens up the possibility of more potentially habitable planets. It’s amazing to think about what’s out there waiting to be discovered!
What do you think we will find in the next year of space exploration?