Feeds

Alien planet is just like EARTH - except for ONE tiny detail

Doomed, scorchio planet is far too close to its sun

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Four hundred light-years away in the constellation Cygnus there lies a G-type star very much like our own Sun. Orbiting it is a world scientists believe is very similar to Earth in both size and composition.

This faraway planet, discovered by the Kepler space telescope and so dubbed Kepler-78b, is not a potential second home for humanity (or alien life along the same general lines as that of Earth). That's because it orbits its sun at a distance of just a million miles, rather than the 93 million that lie between us and Sol. And it's this which has top astro-boffins around the world baffled.

Everything you could want in a planet ... except location, location, location

"This planet is a complete mystery," says David Latham, a top brainbox at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "We don't know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it's not going to last forever."

"It couldn't have formed in place because you can't form a planet inside a star. It couldn't have formed further out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma," splutters Latham's colleague Dimitar Sasselov.

Kepler-78b is especially Earthlike as exoplanets go: it's the first known Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like density. Kepler-78b is about 20 percent larger than the Earth, with a diameter of 9,200 miles, and weighs almost twice as much. As a result it has a density similar to Earth's, which suggests an Earth-like composition of iron and rock.

But the anomalous, burning hot planet hasn't got much of a future. The Harvard-Smithsonian astro boffins tell us:

Kepler-78b is a doomed world. Gravitational tides will draw it even closer to its star. Eventually it will move so close that the star's gravity will rip the world apart. Theorists predict that Kepler-78b will vanish within three billion years.

Perhaps more intriguingly, they say that if there had ever been a Kepler-78b in our solar system - and apparently this is quite possible - such a second Earth would have vanished long ago, leaving no trace for us to find today.

There's more on the enigmatic hot whirly Earth of Kepler-78 here. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.