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TOPIC: Charbonneau Exoplanet Research Team


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GJ1214.gif

Position(2000): RA 17 15 18.94 , Dec +04 57 49.7


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GJ1214 b
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Exoplanet GJ1214b
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Astronomers announced today that they have discovered a "super-Earth" orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth. They found the distant planet with a small fleet of ground-based telescopes no larger than those many amateur astronomers have in their backyards. Although the super-Earth is too hot to sustain life, the discovery shows that current, ground-based technologies are capable of finding almost-Earth-sized planets in warm, life-friendly orbits.
The discovery is being published in the December 17 issue of the journal Nature.

A super-Earth is defined as a planet between one and ten times the mass of the Earth. The newfound world, GJ1214b, is about 6.5 times as massive as the Earth. Its host star, GJ1214, is a small, red type M star about one-fifth the size of the Sun. It has a surface temperature of only about 4,900 degrees F and a luminosity only three-thousandths as bright as the Sun.


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Astronomers have discovered the second super-Earth exoplanet for which they have determined the mass and radius, giving vital clues about its structure. It is also the first super-Earth where an atmosphere has been found. The exoplanet, orbiting a small star only 40 light-years away from us, opens up dramatic new perspectives in the quest for habitable worlds. The planet, GJ1214b, has a mass about six times that of Earth and its interior is likely to be mostly made of water ice. Its surface appears to be fairly hot and the planet is surrounded by a thick atmosphere, which makes it inhospitable for life as we know it on Earth.
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GJ 1214
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Position(2000): RA 17 15 18.94 , Dec +04 57 49.7

Magnitude:  14.67 (V)

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RE: Charbonneau Exoplanet Research Team
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Astronomers have found the second transiting super-Earth around a nearby red dwarf. Called GJ 1214b, it is about 19 times as large as Earth by volume but only 6.6 times as massive. Such an object could be composed primarily of water - likely in liquid form - with a modest amount of rocky material at its core. Calculations show it must also have an atmosphere. Its proximity to the red dwarf, however, makes it slightly too hot to be habitable.
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GJ 1214b
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A newly discovered planet orbiting a small, nearby star appears to be a "water world," with a surface that might be covered with liquid water.

"This is certainly the first planet around another star which we think is mostly made of water" - David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., who led the research team that found the new planet, named GJ 1214b.

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Astronomers using small, off-the-shelf telescopes have found a planet orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light years away.
The planet is about 6.5 times heavier than Earth and nearly three times its diameter, making it a so-called super-Earth.
The newly discovered planet orbits a red dwarf star, called GJ1214, once every 38 hours.
And although it orbits its star at a distance of only two million kilometres, its surface temperature is no hotter than a preheated oven because its star is so small and relatively cool.

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