The first rocky planet

What hap­pened: Ke­pler finds the first un­ques­tion­ably rocky planet be­yond our So­lar Sys­tem When it hap­pened: Jan­uary 2011

All About Space - - Kepler’s Best Bits -

Our So­lar Sys­tem plays host to four rocky plan­ets, and many more rocky moons and other bod­ies. Un­til Ke­pler, how­ever, we had yet to find a rocky ex­o­planet. Larger plan­ets on shorter or­bits, like hot Jupiters, were much eas­ier to find as they caused a big­ger dip in a star’s light and or­bited more quickly, so the tran­sits were more no­tice­able.

In Jan­uary 2011 that all changed with the an­nounce­ment of Ke­pler-10b, the first con­firmed rocky ex­o­planet. About 560 light years from Earth, the planet was nearly four-times the mass of our planet and 1.4-times the size. By con­firm­ing the prop­er­ties of its host star, Ke­pler-10, sci­en­tists were also able to work out the prop­er­ties of this planet, con­firm­ing with­out doubt that it must be ter­res­trial. Un­for­tu­nately, as the planet or­bits its star 20-times closer than Mer­cury does our

Sun, it is al­most cer­tain to be a scorch­ing-hot un­in­hab­it­able word.

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