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Scientists Explore 'Recipe' to 'make Earth-like Exoplanets'

by Himabindu Venkatakrishnan on  January 6, 2015 at 8:01 PM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
A detailed recipe for the making of the Earth has been found by scientists that can also apply to making terrestrial exoplanets orbiting distant stars.
 Scientists Explore 'Recipe' to 'make Earth-like Exoplanets'
Scientists Explore 'Recipe' to 'make Earth-like Exoplanets'
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Courtney Dressing of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), said that our solar system is not as unique as they might have thought, and it looks like rocky exoplanets use the same basic ingredients.

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The key to the discovery was the HARPS-North instrument on the 3.6-meter Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands. (HARPS stands for High-Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher.) It is designed to accurately measure the masses of small, Earth-sized worlds. Those measurements are crucial to determine densities and therefore compositions.

The researchers said that their strategy for using HARPS-North over the past year has been to focus on planets less than two times the diameter of Earth and to study a few planets really well.

Most recently the team targeted Kepler-93b, a planet 1.5 times the size of Earth in a tight, 4.7-day orbit around its star. The mass and composition of this world were uncertain. HARPS-North nailed the mass at 4.02 times Earth, meaning that the planet has a rocky composition.

The researchers then compared all ten known exoplanets with a diameter less than 2.7 times Earth's that had accurately measured masses. They found that the five planets with diameters smaller than 1.6 times Earth showed a tight relationship between mass and size. Moreover, Venus and Earth fit onto the same line, suggesting that all these worlds have similar rock-iron compositions.

As for the larger and more massive exoplanets, their densities proved to be significantly lower meaning that they include a large fraction of water or other volatiles, hydrogen and/or helium. They also showed more diverse compositions rather than fitting into a single group like the smaller terrestrial worlds.

The team also noted that not all planets less than six times the mass of Earth are rocky. Some low-mass worlds with very low densities are known (such as the planets in the Kepler-11 system). But for typical close-in small planets, the chances are high that they share an Earth-like composition.

The ingredients that you need to make one small model planet are :
  • 1 cup magnesium
  • 1 cup silicon
  • 2 cups iron
  • 2 cups oxygen
  • 1/2 teaspoon aluminum
  • 1/2 teaspoon nickel
  • 1/2 teaspoon calcium
  • 1/4 teaspoon sulfur
  • dash of water delivered by asteroids
To make the planet, first you need to blend well in a large bowl, shape into a round ball with your hands and place it neatly in a habitable zone area around a young star. Do not over mix and heat until mixture becomes a white hot glowing ball. Bake for a few million years and cool until color changes from white to yellow to red and a golden-brown crust forms, it should not give off light anymore. Season with a dash of water and organic compounds and wait for it to shrink a bit as steam escapes and clouds and oceans form. Stand back and wait a few more million years to see what happens.

Source: ANI
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