New planet compared to disposable coffee cup


The orbiting Kepler telescope went live back in April. It's mission: Spot Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars. The initial results are starting to be published and it looks like there's some fascinating finds: The telescope discovered five new planets in its first six weeks. Unfortunately for salivating space dorks everywhere, none of them are very Earth-ish. On the other hand, at least one is weird enough to keep said salivating space dorks pretty happy anyway.

All are giants – four are heavier than Jupiter and one is about as massive as Neptune. They all orbit their host stars so closely that their surfaces are hotter than molten lava. "Looking at them might be like looking at a blast furnace," says lead scientist William Borucki, who presented the results on Monday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, DC.

One, called Kepler 7b, is about as dense as polystyrene. It is about 1.5 times as wide as Jupiter, but only about a tenth as dense, making it one of the most diffuse planets yet found.

New Scientist: Kepler telescope spots "Styrofoam" planet

Image courtesy Flickr user waferboard, via CC