The Kepler Telescope, which has already discovered some 2300 planets during its K2 planet-hunting mission, made another startling discovery by revealing the presence of another ‘super-Earth’ alien world.
The newly found planet, designated as EPIC 246393474 b is actually pretty massive, being five times more huge than the Earth, according to a report by Phys. This suggests a rocky-iron composition, with the iron content reaching up to 70 percent, astronomers say. But that’s actually not what the discovery of this planet is all about. The most interesting fact about the planet is that it has the shortest-known orbital period with a precisely determined mass.
One day on Earth lasts 24 hours, and a year on our planet takes 365 days, during which the Earth makes a full circle around the Sun. But on the EPIC 246393474 b, the entire year lasts only 7 hours. Yes, that’s right, its orbital period is only about 6.7 hours, making it the fastest-orbiting planet to have been discovered.
The exoplanet has an equilibrium temperature of about 2,039 K. It orbits its host every 6.7 hours at a distance of about 0.0007 astronomical units (1 AU equals the average distance from Earth to our Sun) or only three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
Considering the close proximity of the exoplanet to its parent star, the researchers noted that it has lost its entire atmosphere due to stellar radiation. However, remarkably, the planet has not been vaporized even though it is quite close to its star.
A super-Earth is an extrasolar planet with a mass higher than that of Earth’s but substantially smaller than the masses of the Solar System’s ice giants like Uranus and Neptune.
The discovery is reported in a paper published on the arXiv preprint repository.
Title image: phys (representative image)