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Astronomers Baffled by “Impossible” Composition of Huge-Ass Planet

Hey, it's okay to be confused. As long as we've still got that asteroid situation on lock.

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In a press release yesterday, NASA announced the befuddling discovery of a hulking planet more than twice the size of Earth and 17 times as heavy. NASA admits that “planet formation theorists [are] challenged to explain how such a world could have formed,” but obviously the answer is aliens, guys. C’mon.

Re-analysis of data previously collected by the Kepler space telescope revealed that Kepler-10c (or, as Dimitar Sasselove of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics is calling it, “the Godzilla of Earths!” ) has a mass seventeen times that of our planet and is made up almost entirely of rock. Kepler-10c’s composition defies traditional beliefs about planet formation—despite its considerable mass, the planet didn’t accrue a gas envelope as expected during formation. Instead of growing to the size of Neptune or Jupiter, Kepler-10c is comparatively puny at just 2.3 times the size of our Earth.

Kepler 10-c is 560 light-years away in the constellation Draco and orbits a star every forty-five days. Xavier Dumusque, who spearheaded analysis of the NASA Kepler data, admits, “We were very surprised when we realized what we had found.” Kepler mission scientist Natalie Batalha said in the press release,

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, nature gives you a huge surprise – in this case, literally [...]Isn’t science marvelous?

Dimitar Sasselove has another reason to be excited for the unpredictability of space, telling Fox that the Godzilla of Earths, “Unlike the movie monster, [has] positive implications for life.”

What did I tell you, guys? …Aliens.

(via NASA)

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