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February 03, 2009

Earth-Like Extrasolar Planet Discovered

Well, earth-like in size and composition (rocky, not gaseous).

Not so earth-like in terms of distance from sun.

The smallest exoplanet ever seen is less than twice the size of Earth, and orbits a star similar to our sun 390 light years away. Astronomers recently spotted this world, the most Earth-like planet yet discovered, with the COROT satellite.

"For the first time, we have unambiguously detected a planet that is 'rocky' in the same sense as our own Earth,” said Malcolm Fridlund, ESA COROT project scientist.

For all its similarity to our own globe, though, it is still a far cry away from a habitable Earth-twin. For one thing, it is so hot — between 1,830 and 2,730 degrees Fahrenheit — that scientists think it might be covered in lava. It orbits extremely close to its sun and whips around the star once every 20 hours.


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posted by Ace at 06:47 PM

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