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“Mega Earth” planet is thought to be a physical anomaly

Credit: NASA

Discovered by NASA a few years ago, Kepler-10 c, nicknamed the Godzilla planet, is massive rocky planet that is a lot bigger and heavier than Earth.  This is why it is also know as a “mega earth” According to the scientific community this planet defies our understanding of astrophysics so much so that they are having difficulty proving its existence.

The characteristics of Kepler-10 c

Located in the Dragon constellation about 564 light years from our Solar System, Kepler-10 c is thought of as a mega-Earth.  In other words, it is a telluric planet that is at least 10 times bigger than Earth.  It was discovered in 2014 by NASA using the Kepler spatial telescope which started working in 2009 but whose mission was stopped in October 2018.

Orbiting a sun that is twice as old as our own, Kepler-10 c  is 17 times heavier than Earth and has been nicknamed “The Godzilla Planet”. It has a diameter of 29, 000 km which is 2.3 times the size of Earth’s diameter.  Kepler 10 is part of the Kepler-10 star system (see below) and is about 11 billion years old.  In other words it was created 3 billion year after the Big Bang. This planet is therefore proof that telluric planets were formed very early in the history of our Universe.

Representation of the Kepler-10 star system and its two exoplanets: Kepler-10 b and Kepler-10 c Credits : Wikipedia

An incredible discovery

Called a rocky monster by scientists, this planet is thought to be a real physical anomaly, that upturns the state of our current understanding of astrophysics.  Usually, the bigger a planet is the more the planet is able to attract large quantities of solid and hydrogen materials using its gravitational attraction. This is the case for Saturn and other “gas giants” in our Solar System and in the Universe.

However Godzilla has a rocky body just like our planet.  No trace of gas has been detected in its atmosphereDimitar Sasselov, an astronomer from the University of Harvard in the United States asks the question again: “How can we comprehend the existence of a planet that hasn’t even collected small quantities of hydrogen or helium?

For a longtime it has been believed that planets of this size are born with a pile of gas and dust around an star embryo which attracts and absorbs gases in large quantities.  However Kepler-10 has squashed these understandings.  As a result scientists are talking about the possibility that this planet is part of a new type of giant rock star.

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