It's almost-but-not-quite like Earth. Actually, it's nothing like Earth, except for a coincidence of mass: the newly-discovered exoplanet KOI-314c, 200 light-years distant from us, has roughly Earth mass, but turns out to be a gas planet. The discovery, described here at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), is …
Almost, but not quite...
Surely the line should have been "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Earth".
Gas giant the size of Earth...
At that size it should be a 'Gas Dwarf', or maybe just 'Gas Planet'?
And I wouldn't rule out life, even as we know it. Methanopyrus kandleri has been able to grow and proliferate at temperatures of up to 122°C when under around 20atm.
DNA polymerase can be quite heat tolerant.
Why do I get the feeling that exoplanet hunters will be carping on about this for some time?
That's a pretty tiny giant
Depends on the size of the observer! :)
This way to see the Giant
Makes me think of The Phantom Tollbooth. . .
"I'm the smallest Giant in the world. What can I do for you?"
What a great book.
Isn't there a possiblity it's just early in its formation? Don't all planets start as gas/dust that eventually clumps together?
A solar system is never done forming, but will continue "clumping together" as long as it's sun is "alive" and long after. There however a few things that will happen that makes part of it more or less stable, and that is mostly planets. Among other things what makes a planet a planet, as per the new definition, is that it has cleared the neighbourhood. In a three-body system, that is system with three bodies of significant mass, and where the mass of one is so big that the last two orbits it, the two orbiting bodies can't be in the same orbit. If their orbits are too close their gravitational pull on each other each time they pass each other either throw both into new orbits or into each other, thus "clearing the neighbourhood". This of course will take a while, and it will take greater and greater time the further out the orbit is. So way out there in what we call the Oort cloud around our star the system is still forming to a degree, but the orbital periods are so long that in fact it might never happen and the gravitational pull from other stars might throw it out of whack. Close to our star though, this is nearly done. We have some debris left over between Mars and Jupiter and a few other places, but mostly it is cleared for stuff.
The planet they are talking about here though has an orbital period of 22 days. That means that if you throw in another body in it's orbit and try to balance it perfectly to avoid collision then you would still probably achieve it within in a year regardless. It had most likely finished forming long before it's host star ignited.
It's surface gravity wouldn't be that far off our own, if it had a surface.
If it has the predicted density of 1.3 and diameter 60% bigger than the Earth then surface (cloud top) gravity is about the same as Mars at around 0.4G.
As it is low mass and warm it is probably losing Hydrogen and Helium at a high rate (geologically speaking). It likely has an escape velocity lower than Earth.
Once againt the universe shows how odd it can be.
Was anyone even looking for a "gas dwarf?"
I doubt it.
but well done for finding it.
Gotta be a rock in there somewhere
At that low a mass it couldn't possibly have that high a density unless there's a pretty big rock in its core. Too low gravity to compress a mass of mostly gas that much, the way Jupiter does.
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