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UC Riverside Astronomers Study `Super Earth’ at Edge of Galaxy


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A planet about 50% larger than Earth in the outer reaches of the galaxy is currently the focus of analysis by UC Riverside astronomers and other researchers, who have dubbed the sizzling pile of rocks “Super Earth,” campus officials said Monday.

TOI-561, the official name of the newfound planet, has gained attention because of its composition and age — predating Earth by about 10 billion years.

One of those closely scrutinizing data related to the new find is UCR planetary astrophysicist Stephen Kane, who has co-authored a paper about TOI-561 for The Astronomical Journal.

Among the key areas of interest for Kane is that while the planet has greater mass than Earth, it doesn’t contain much in the way of heavy elements, or metals. Instead, it’s just blazing hot rocks.

“This is consistent with the notion that the planet is extremely old,” the researcher said.

It received the nickname Super Earth because of its girth, but that’s where the similarity ends.

“TOI-561 is one of the oldest rocky planets yet discovered,” said University of Hawaii postdoctoral fellow Lauren Weiss, who joined Kane in authoring the study.

“Its existence shows that the universe has been forming rocky planets almost since its inception 14 billion years ago.”

Scientists generally peg the Earth’s age at 4.5 billion years.

The average temperature on Super Earth is 3,140 degrees Fahrenheit, according to researchers. It was discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite in a region of the Milky Way known as the “Galactic Thick Disk.”

“Stars in this region are chemically distinct, with fewer heavy elements, such as iron or magnesium, that are associated with planet building,” according to UCR.

Kane said it’s highly doubtful Super Earth was ever inhabited. However, its structure offers additional guideposts as to the explosive powers at work in the formation of the galaxy.

“This particular planet … may be a harbinger of a many rocky worlds yet to be discovered around our galaxy’s oldest stars,” Kane said.

UC Riverside Astronomers Study `Super Earth’ at Edge of Galaxy was last modified: January 11th, 2021 by

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Among the key areas of interest for Kane is that while the planet has greater mass than Earth, it doesn’t contain much in the way of heavy elements, or metals. Instead, it’s just blazing hot rocks.

Source: https://mynewsla.com/uncategorized/2021/01/11/uc-riverside-astronomers-study-super-earth-at-edge-of-galaxy/

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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