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Astronomers find a new planet that's mostly made of iron

Added 12-02-21 02:07:01pm EST - “NASA's TESS telescope finds a small, iron-rich planet which could help explain the origins of Mercury, the innermost planet in our solar system” - Npr.org

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Npr.org: “Astronomers find a new planet that's mostly made of iron”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

The planet-hunting telescope TESS depicted in front of a lava world orbiting a small red star. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center hide caption

An iron-rich planet spotted in a nearby solar system could help scientists understand the mystery of how the planet Mercury formed in our own neighborhood.

The newly-described planet is about 31 light years away, according to a report in the journal Science. Astronomers haven't seen it directly, but they've been able to estimate its size and mass by watching its effects on the star that it orbits. It appears that this planet is largely made of iron.

"From our measurements, we find that this exoplanet is smaller and less massive than the Earth," says Kristine Lam, a researcher at the Institute of Planetary Research in the German Aerospace Center in Berlin. "It could be similar to Mercury, which is composed of mostly iron."

The planet, known as "GJ 367 b," orbits so close to its red dwarf star that it only takes about eight Earth hours for it to whiz all the way around. Temperatures on the planet's surface could reach a scorching 1500 degrees Celsius, or about 2700 degrees Fahrenheit.

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