Scientists discovered a rocky “super-Earth” planet in an ancient star system that may have formed 10 billion years ago, only a few billion years after the Milky Way.
why does it matter: It is possible that a newly discovered planet does not support life, but in general, researchers believe that ancient planetary systems have better odds of harboring life because they are so long-lived.
- “Oh my God, if we only existed 5 billion years ago, imagine what would happen in a rocky world that existed 10 billion years ago,” said Lauren Weiss of the University of Hawaii. Monday’s press conference at the Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
What they found: The planet – called TOI-561b – orbits its star in less than half a day on Earth and is about 50% larger than our planet.
- Weiss said the world is likely hosting an ocean of magma on the side of the planet facing its star.
- Weiss also said that there are two other planets orbiting the star, and they are believed to be gaseous and farther away than the rocky world.
- Researchers used NASA’s TESS mission and the Keck Observatory to find and confirm the super-Earth, and a a study Detail Discovery was accepted for The Astronomical Journal.