Seems like this week is packed with planetary news – hard to keep up with what’s going on in the Cosmos! First off we heard at the beginning of the week that the oldest material in the solar system was discovered lodged inside a North African meteorite. Based on the anaysis of a pea-sized mineral found inside the space rock the new age of the solar system is 4,586.2 million years old – pushing back the age by 2 million years. May not sound like much when we are talking about billions of years – but it makes a huge difference in terms of helping bolster the theory that a nearby ancient supernova explosion may have seeded our solar system with heavy metals and helped give birth to our sun and planets. The late astronomer Carl Sagan once said, “we are all made of starstuff”. This now really holds true – just think that all the iron that is in our bodies was forged inside a massive star that exploded 5 billion years ago!
Next story to make the news mid-week was that an alien star about 127 light years away hosts five to seven planets the size of Neptune. What is really interesting here is that one of the planets may be the least massive one every detected-roughly about 1.4 times the mass of Earth. This has yet to be confirmed, but this planetary system may turn out to be the most similar to our own solar system ever discovered. It will be worth keeping tabs on this story and see what develops when researchers may confirm this potential terrestrial-like world.
Finally on Thursday afternoon, NASA announces that its planet-hunting probe, Kepler, has discovered two Saturn-sized planets orbiting the same sun-like star. Here again they are saying that there are hints of a third possible, Earth-sized planet lurking.
I think we are getting pretty close to hearing the first confirmed detection of an Earth-sized planet. Maybe within the year? Crossing my fingers.
Exciting times we live in!
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