Attempting to visit recently discovered planetGJ1214b would land any astronaut in hot water –literally – U.S. scientists say. Researchers at the CfA - Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics - said they have identified a new kind of planet, dominated not by rock, gas or other common materials – but water. The planet is “a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere”, they said in a statement after scrutinising the planet with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
GJ1214b was discovered in 2009 by the ground-based MEarth Project. ”GJ1214b is like no planet we know of,” astronomer Zachary Berta said. ”A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.” In 2010, CfA scientist Jacob Bean and colleagues reported that they had measured the atmosphere of GJ1214b, finding it likely that it was composed mainly of water. However, their observations could also be explained by the presence of a planet-enshrouding haze in GJ1214b’s atmosphere. Read the full article »»»»