Researchers discover ‘waterworld’

An astronaut attempting to visit recently discovered planet GJ1214b would land in hot water – literally.

Researchers said they have identified an entirely new kind of planet, dominated not by rock, gas or other common materials, but water. The planet is “a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere.

GJ1214b was discovered in 2009 by the ground-based MEarth Project. Described as a “super-Earth,” it is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs almost 7 times as much.

Further studies in 2010 led to scientists suspecting that the planet, where the temperature is some 232 degrees Celsius, was largely covered in water. This was confirmed by using Hubble to study the planet when it crossed in front of its host star.

The light of the star, filtered through the planet’s atmosphere, gave clues to the mix of gasses, backing up the water vapor theory. Learn more here or here.

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