A Japanese research team of astronomers and planetary scientists has focused their efforts on investigating the atmospheric features of one super-Earth, GJ 1214 b, which is located 40 light years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus, northwest of the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
...one of Einstein's weirder ideas has led to the identification of a new planet, about twice as massive as Jupiter, orbiting a star some 2,000 light-years from Earth — a discovery Einstein never even envisioned but one that may never have happened without him. Indeed, David Latham, a Harvard astronomer who collaborated on the discovery, originally doubted it was even possible to do what he (under Einstein's guiding hand) recently succeeded in doing. "I thought it was silly," he say
There once were two planets, new to the galaxy and inexperienced in life. Like fraternal twins, they were born at the same time, about four and a half billion years ago, and took roughly the same shape. Both were blistered with volcanoes and etched with watercourses; both circled the same yellow dwarf star—close enough to be warmed by it, but not so close as to be blasted to a cinder. Had an alien astronomer swivelled his telescope toward them in those days, he might have found them equally promising—nurseries in the making. They were large enough to hold their gases close, swaddling themselves in atmosphere; small enough to stay solid, never swelling into gaseous giants. They were "Goldilocks planets," our own astronomers would say: just right for life.
A new planet was discovered that is similar to Earth in size and composition, meaning it has a rocky surface and an iron core. But that is where similarities end. This twin, named Kepler-78b, has an orbit so close to its parent star, that the surface is about 2,000 degrees hotter than Earth's. The planet's orbit around the star takes only 8.5 hours, instead Earth's 12 month orbit. Located 400 light years away from Earth in the constellation Cyngus, this hellish Earth shouldn't exist. For a planet only 20% larger than Earth with such a small orbit, astronomers can't figure out how it was formed.
This planet, GJ 504b, is about the size of Jupiter, but has several times its mass. It's actually so far the smallest planet that's ever been directly imaged with a telescope, rather than being observed by eclipsing its parent star.
Scanning the heavens, you might very well miss the star Kepler-62. It's a rather typical star, slightly smaller, cooler, and more orange than the Sun, much like tens of billions of other stars in our galaxy. But it holds a surprise: It's orbited by at least five planets… and two of them are Earth-sized and orbit the star in its habitable zone!