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Discovery of a Super-Sized Rocky Planet

16 May 2016, 22:00 UTC
Discovery of a Super-Sized Rocky Planet
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Osborn et al. (2016) present the discovery of a super-sized rocky planet identified as EPIC212521166 b. This planet orbits an old metal-poor K3 host star every 13.86 days. A combination of high-precision transit and radial velocity observations indicate that EPIC212521166 b has 2.6 ± 0.1 times the radius and 18.3 ± 2.8 times the mass of Earth. This gives EPIC212521166 b a similar density as Earth, making it the most massive known planet with a sub-Neptune radius. The surface gravity on EPIC212521166 b is nearly 3 times the surface gravity on Earth.Figure 1: Artist's impression of a rocky planet.Interior models of EPIC212521166 b show that the planet can be comprised of an Earth-like core with 9 times the mass of Earth containing ~70 percent rock and ~30 percent iron, and an overlying layer of water amounting to 9 times the mass of Earth. Alternatively, EPIC212521166 b can be comprised of an iron core and rocky mantle totalling 18.1 times the mass of Earth, with a ~2500 km thick hydrogen-helium atmosphere measuring just 0.2 times the mass of Earth.The remarkably high mean density of EPIC212521166 b suggests that rocky planets with 10 to 20 times the mass of Earth can form ...

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