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Kepler-78b: The Earth-Like Planet That Shouldn't Exist

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the hot-hot-hot dept.

Space 110

astroengine writes "Kepler-78b may be an exoplanet notable for being approximately Earth-sized and likely possessing a rocky surface plus iron core, but that's where any similarity to our planet ends. It has an extremely tight orbit around sun-like star Kepler-78, completing one 'year' in only 8.5 hours. It orbits so close in fact that the alien world's surface temperature soars to 2,000 degrees hotter than Earth's. Referring to Kepler-78b as a 'rocky' world is therefore a misnomer — it's a hellish lava world. But this is just a side-show to the real conundrum behind Kepler-78b: It shouldn't exist at all. 'This planet is a complete mystery,' said astronomer David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in a press release. 'We don't know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it's not going to last forever.'"

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110 comments

Well it is far, far away (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286573)

That's no planet... its a space station!

Re: Well it is far, far away (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286669)

Deorbited, the emperor sentenced the rebel world to this fate.

Re: Well it is far, far away (1)

pugugly (152978) | about 9 months ago | (#45288767)

I'm pretty sure when we get there we get to meet Space Lincoln.

Re:Well it is far, far away (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 9 months ago | (#45288327)

Or, possibly this is an alien factory planet...

To make more energy available, they take all of a solar system's rocky mass and put it into an orbit skimming close to the central star. That way the metals can be easily separated out, and worked. Since heat engines become more efficient at higher temperatures (especially when you have to radiate waste heat to space), much more energy is available for engineering processes.

This planet isn't "a complete mystery" - it is final, clinching proof of extraterrestrial intelligent life!

Or not...

Re:Well it is far, far away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45288415)

HELL YEAH HELLOWEN!

Re:Well it is far, far away (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 9 months ago | (#45288499)

It's not April Fool's fool.

It's a Big Universe (5, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about 9 months ago | (#45286575)

In an inifinitely-ish sized universe, I'd be surprised NOT to find a lot of outliers. Even if it's 99.99999% unlikely ever to happen, there are still an infinite number of them out there! We might even be able to see a couple!

Re:It's a Big Universe (4, Informative)

harperska (1376103) | about 9 months ago | (#45286705)

That, and the results of both of our effective planet detecting schemes - transit and doppler - skew proportionately towards these hot worlds, as for both methods a shorter period will give a stronger signal and therefore be more likely to be detected. So just like with the hot jupiters detected by the doppler method, they are probably actually a minuscule fraction of the planets out there but happen to be the easiest to detect. So even though they are rare, we are guaranteed to see them, and then muse about their rarity.

Re:It's a Big Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45288483)

That, and the results of both of our effective planet detecting schemes - transit and doppler - skew proportionately towards these hot worlds, as for both methods a shorter period will give a stronger signal and therefore be more likely to be detected. So just like with the hot jupiters detected by the doppler method, they are probably actually a minuscule fraction of the planets out there but happen to be the easiest to detect. So even though they are rare, we are guaranteed to see them, and then muse about their rarity.

It's just like scientists to be racist and not be willing to detect the black planets.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

Zephyn (415698) | about 9 months ago | (#45291069)

That, and the results of both of our effective planet detecting schemes - transit and doppler - skew proportionately towards these hot worlds, as for both methods a shorter period will give a stronger signal and therefore be more likely to be detected. So just like with the hot jupiters detected by the doppler method, they are probably actually a minuscule fraction of the planets out there but happen to be the easiest to detect. So even though they are rare, we are guaranteed to see them, and then muse about their rarity.

It's just like scientists to be racist and not be willing to detect the black planets.

No it isn't. [discovery.com]

Re:It's a Big Universe (5, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 9 months ago | (#45286731)

It's not so much that it's an outlier or unlikely, it's that given our current understanding of planets/orbits/forces, it shouldn't be there at all. ie: There should be 0 planets like it in the universe. It would be like finding a neptune-like planet orbiting a sun-like star at 0.5 AUs, due to the solar wind at that distance, it should only be a 'rocky' planet, not a gas planet. The 'problem' with this planet is that it is too close to the star for it to have formed there, and there is no stable orbital migration pattern which would allow it to have formed farther out and drifted inward as close as it has w/o almost immediately falling into the star itself.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 9 months ago | (#45286829)

Given that it evolved within the presumed surface of the star, and there's no "stable" orbital migration pattern which could allow it to be there, are we asserting that reality is wrong, or that the current theories of star development or orbital mechanics are wrong? One of the two must be. Reading the article, they were almost making it sound like it's proof of God. we can't explain it, so it must be supernatural. Rather than "we obviously have some gaps in our knowledge."

A loose planet captured by a star would have a very eccentric orbit. Could such an eccentric orbit stabilize over time, given the gravity of the sun and other bodies in the solar system? No, we won't use this as an opportunity to learn, we'll just talk about the Miracles of God, and the impossibility of nature.

Re:It's a Big Universe (4, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | about 9 months ago | (#45287037)

Part of the problem is that many of the planetary system models have been developed with a sample size of one. That unfortunately skews the results of any such models. Now that there are literally hundreds of planetary systems to examine where the astrophysicists who make up these models can look at actual stellar systems to see how those models compare to reality, I'm sure there are going to be some changes to those models and some new theories put forward.

As usual, the science press is making up stuff to sensationalize a situation that is admittedly still unknown simply because it takes time to digest all of this new information. I don't think this is a reporter trying to attribute this to the supernatural, but they are trying to make what is otherwise dull news sound interesting.

Re:It's a Big Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45288611)

Too late. Clearly, this is Hell. We have found Hell. We must gather the military and all COD players and immediately attack... or the terrorists win.

Re:It's a Big Universe (0)

Cramer (69040) | about 9 months ago | (#45287279)

Say it with me, children: D A R K M A T T E R

(seems to be the answer to every incorrect formula.)

Re:It's a Big Universe (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 9 months ago | (#45287287)

I didn't get the feeling of 'must be a Miracle of God' speculation in the article... Just a bit of sensationalist headlining. It's possible to be completely secular in your reporting and still be sensationalist. No attribution to the divine necessary.

Re:It's a Big Universe (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 9 months ago | (#45287391)

I'd see a more secular version to be "science under continual improvement" not a "we can't explain the eye, so Creationism must be true" type reporting. Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but the anti-intellectual nature of the US these days rubs me the wrong way.

Re:It's a Big Universe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287607)

Reading the article, they were almost making it sound like it's proof of God.

It is quite obviously a Lyraian solar energy collector. Each sidereal year it directs an ultra low energy tau neutrino beam at Vega 3 where collectors catalyze an ultra high energy anti-neutron beam directed at their local sun. The beam moderates fusion rates by proton anti-neutron annihilation thereby greatly enhancing the life of their sun.

The Lyraians are far from the only civilization employing such tricks to maximum advantage.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

harperska (1376103) | about 9 months ago | (#45286897)

... given our current understanding of planets/orbits/forces ...

That's the key.

It would be like finding a neptune-like planet orbiting a sun-like star at 0.5 AUs, due to the solar wind at that distance, it should only be a 'rocky' planet, not a gas planet.

Hot jupiters have been found as close as 0.0165 AU from sun-like stars. Again, they're very rare, but they exist.

The 'problem' with this planet is that it is too close to the star for it to have formed there, and there is no stable orbital migration pattern which would allow it to have formed farther out and drifted inward as close as it has w/o almost immediately falling into the star itself.

"Stable" is a relative term. According to TFA, Kepler 78b's orbit is unstable, and will degrade in about 3 billion years. "Immediately" in astronomical terms can mean millions or billions of years.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 9 months ago | (#45286991)

I've been wondering for a while if there couldn't just be some coarseness in these measurements and that most of these exoplanets they've detected will just turn out to be chimerical. NOTE: This is just curiosity on my behalf, haven't actually delved into the data, aren't capable of doing so really. But I'd like to know if anyone else has delved into this - which is undoubtedly the case - and if there aren't any solid arguments that many of these detected extrasolar bodies might someday prove to be actually non-existent.

Re:It's a Big Universe (2)

harperska (1376103) | about 9 months ago | (#45287061)

I've just looked at the data from an armchair perspective, but my understanding is that they only declare a signal to be a planet once they are pretty darn sure that it is. Kepler found several thousand planet candidates with a relatively high certainty, but they have so far only declared a few hundred of them as actual planets as they are confirmed by separate observations preferably using different techniques.

In the case of Kepler 78b, they got both a transiting signal from Kepler and a doppler signal from a ground based telescope. So something is making this star wobble towards and away from us, while simultaneously dimming it at the point when it is closest to us in the wobble. The only reasonable explanation is a planet.

Re:It's a Big Universe (4, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#45287409)

Am I the only one who reads these things and goes: "Holy fuck, seriously? We're detecting planetary-caused star-wobble from where? That's how we do this shit?!?"

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 9 months ago | (#45287691)

Doppler shifting of a star though light frequency shifts is something that is extremely accurate and the science involved is understood very well, hence why it is possible to detect planetary shifts in this manner. Keep in mind this technique mostly works because the planetary system (and the orbit of this planet) has its plane edge-on to us here on the Earth. This is the reason why Kepler was able to detect this planet, and why the spectrum of this star is able to give so much additional information.

If instead we were looking at the stellar pole and a sort of "top view" or "bottom view" of the planetary system as viewed from a telescope of a particular star, none of this is even remotely possible at the moment. I don't even know in terms of percentages how many planetary systems can even be detected in this manner, but it is a very small minority of the total number presumed to be in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. An important assumption (and it is admitted at the moment to be just an assumption) is that stellar planetary systems are randomly oriented relative to either us or the galactic disc.

I presume that some stellar planetary systems will likely need a physical probe to go visit them in order to conclusively identify if a particular star has planets or not, assuming planets haven't been detected near that star earlier. That of course is going to take centuries or even millennia to occur. In the meantime, it is sweet that pure luck has allowed us to at least spot some new planets.

Re:It's a Big Universe (3, Informative)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#45288169)

I think Mythosaz might be remembering, the same as I do, when they said that the necessary Doppler shift measurements were so subtle that astronomers would NEVER be able to detect them. Now they're detecting Earth-sized planets, and it's incredibly cool.

Re:It's a Big Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45289509)

No you are not.

Go to your local science museum or observatory. They will have simplified machines so you can see how they work.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 9 months ago | (#45287257)

Hot jupiters have been found as close as 0.0165 AU from sun-like stars. Again, they're very rare, but they exist.

I was trying to come up with an example of something which shouldn't be possible, so I shifted from Jupiter at 0.5 AU to Neptune (assuming it's weaker gravity means that it's gas would be blown away)

Feel free to substitute your own 'impossible' solar system object.

"Stable" is a relative term. According to TFA, Kepler 78b's orbit is unstable, and will degrade in about 3 billion years. "Immediately" in astronomical terms can mean millions or billions of years.

Yup. Literally astronomical. I was mostly glancing at TFA, and I was wondering what they meant by unstable. Did they mean unstable with respect to tidal forces? Or unstable in another manner.

I really want to know what they mean when they say it couldn't have formed and then migrated inward. I don't see why that's 'impossible' given that it isn't in a stable orbit now. If it were in a stable orbit, that would make sense to me, as I could understand why something wouldn't 'fall inward' and then suddenly achieve a stable orbit.

Alas, I think the headline is probably just a bit too sensational, and they really do mean improbable formation, instead of impossible formation.

Re:It's a Big Universe (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 9 months ago | (#45287013)

I'm not so sure about that. From TFA:

So could the planet have formed in a wider orbit and migrated inward? This is another improbability, say the researchers. âoeIt couldnâ(TM)t have formed further out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma,â Sasselov added.

That is in opposition to this: [nationalgeographic.com]

âoeWhat Iâ(TM)m going to say is really absolutely crazy,â he said at the start of a recent seminar. âoeIf we publish this, my career might be over.â He could have made the same remark back in 2004 about what is now called the Nice modelâ"the hypothesis that he and his colleagues, including Alessandro Morbidelli of the CÃte dâ(TM)Azur Observatory in Nice, developed on the basis of dozens of computer simulations.

In essence Levisonâ(TM)s team proposed that our solar systemâ(TM)s four giant planetsâ"Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptuneâ"had started out much more closely packed together, on nearly circular orbits, with the latter three closer to the sun than they are now. Early on they were embedded in the disk-shaped solar nebula, which was still full of icy and rocky debris. As the planets absorbed those planetesimals or flung them away after close encounters, they cleared gaps in the disk.

Because the planets were also tugging on one another, the whole system was fragileâ"âoealmost infinitely chaotic,â Levison says. Instead of each planet being linked only to the sun by a brass arm, itâ(TM)s as if they were all linked by gravitational springs as well. The most powerful one linked the two biggest bodies, Jupiter and Saturn. A yank on that spring would jolt the whole system.

And that, the team believes, is what happened when the solar system was about 500 million to 700 million years old. As the planets interacted with planetesimals, their own orbits shifted. Jupiter moved slightly inward; Saturn moved slightly outward, as did Uranus and Neptune. Everything happened slowlyâ"until at a certain point Saturn was completing exactly one orbit for every two of Jupiterâ(TM)s.

Because the planets were also tugging on one another, the whole system was fragileâ"âoealmost infinitely chaotic,â Levison says. Instead of each planet being linked only to the sun by a brass arm, itâ(TM)s as if they were all linked by gravitational springs as well. The most powerful one linked the two biggest bodies, Jupiter and Saturn. A yank on that spring would jolt the whole system.

TFA is framing the question in a sensational way. What the scientists are saying is "this is an exciting puzzle, it shouldn't happen according to what we know.

Re:It's a Big Universe (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 9 months ago | (#45287209)

Oh I definitely agree, it's not that it IS impossible, it's just impossible based on our current models.

I'm of the opinion that it's a captured exoplanet, or one which suffered a collision and lost angular momentum.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 9 months ago | (#45289287)

From reading that National Geographic article I suspect this kind of thing is more common than they think. It wouldn't even need a collision, just a close call with a larger body.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

Zephyn (415698) | about 9 months ago | (#45291149)

Or leftover dust from the stellar disc that's more prevalent in the outer areas. The orbit gradually degrades until it reaches a clearer area closer in.

Re:It's a Big Universe (5, Insightful)

harperska (1376103) | about 9 months ago | (#45287415)

Yeah, when scientists say "This shouldn't happen according to current models", they are really saying "Holy shit, this is awesome! We get to come up with new models!".

Meanwhile, the mainstream media hears that and reports it either as "Scientists say this shouldn't happen. The universe is fucked up" or "Scientists say this shouldn't happen. Science is fucked up" depending on their political bent.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 9 months ago | (#45288151)

"The universe is fucked up" is something pretty much all scientists can agree on.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | about 9 months ago | (#45290657)

"The universe is fucked up" is something pretty much all scientists can agree on.

Reminds me of this classic: There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

When it's ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45288363)

It will be moved to the appropriate orbit to cool and be populated. Slartibartfast is standing by to make fjords in the northern hemisphere.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

Xest (935314) | about 9 months ago | (#45288963)

"What the scientists are saying is "this is an exciting puzzle, it shouldn't happen according to what we know."

For what it's worth, that's how I read titles like "shouldn't exist" anyway, I assume they're saying "shouldn't exist according to current models and understanding" which ultimately means our current models and understanding still need adjustment and we just figure out how.

So I wouldn't worry too much about the sensationalism, I think a lot of us even those of us who know little about this sort of field know what they really mean. I doubt many people are actually assuming there's some kind of magic going on, and I suspect any who would argue "Look, Science doesn't know what it's doing!" are too far gone into their religious fervour or whatever their agenda is to listen even if the headline was less sensational and more precise.

Re:It's a Big Universe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45290839)

The problem isn't with science but with naturalists who insist on interpreting everything within a naturalistic framework even when there is no supporting scientific evidence whatsoever.

Lets see

There is the fact that Darwin got so many of his 'predictions' wrong and there is no evidence for universal common descent whatsoever yet somehow the model still continues. The model is basically unfalsifiable which means it's not science. The best evolutionists can do is to say that since organisms undergo mutation and natural selection this is evidence of universal common ancestry. Of course it's not but when you have no evidence for your presuppositions (and science isn't about assuming universal common descent no matter what the evidence, that's atheistic dogma) the best you can do is to dishonestly conflate two separate concepts. Lets not forget that Darwin stole the ideas of natural selection and random mutation from a theist and never even gave credit. How dishonest but no one here even has the integrity to acknowledge this and I am expected to take your dogma seriously.

http://www.icr.org/article/natural-selection-creationists-idea/

To be taken seriously you must first

A: Acknowledge that natural selection + random mutation do not equal proof for universal common descent. Not doing so is dishonest.

B: Acknowledge that Darwin stole the ideas of natural selection and random mutation from a creationist and didn't give proper credit. It is true, you know it even if you are unwilling to admit it, and not making such an acknowledgement and going on pretending otherwise is dishonest. Science is not about being dishonest like Darwin was.

Do it, acknowledge these two facts and don't ignore them or forever live with the fact that you are an intellectually dishonest liar that doesn't deserve to be taken seriously by me or anyone even if you refuse to acknowledge this.

Then if you would like to suggest that universal common descent is true, or suggest some other naturalistic model, you must provide proof of the model. "but natural selection and random mutation exist" is not proof of universal common descent. You need to do better than that. The fossil record certainly does not support universal common descent. So I want evidence. Otherwise your beliefs are not science but faith, the very thing you criticize theists for.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 9 months ago | (#45287351)

w/o almost immediately falling into the star itself.

Has it been observed for long enough to know that is not exactly what is happening? "Immediately" on the scale of a planet spiralling into its sun most likely takes centuries, if not millenia.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 9 months ago | (#45287957)

Has it been observed for long enough to know that is not exactly what is happening? "Immediately" on the scale of a planet spiralling into its sun most likely takes centuries, if not millenia.

I think in most cases, that would be the case. However, this planet has an orbital period of only 8.5 hours! Contrast that with Mercury, which has an orbital period of 88 days. There are just so many opportunities to evaluate this planet it's amazing.

Since Galileo observed Jupiter's moons in 1610, Jupiter has completed its orbit around the sun approximately 34 times. Since the first publishing of the discover of Kepler-78b (not even it's discovery date), it has orbited its star over 469 times!

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

The Raven (30575) | about 9 months ago | (#45287507)

"Almost immediately" in celestial terms could be 1000 years, or even a million. That's a blink of an eye, but it will happen... it will just usually be over before we look. This time, it's not.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about 9 months ago | (#45289301)

It's not so much that it's an outlier or unlikely, it's that given our current understanding of planets/orbits/forces, it shouldn't be there at all. ie: There should be 0 planets like it in the universe. It would be like finding a neptune-like planet orbiting a sun-like star at 0.5 AUs, due to the solar wind at that distance, it should only be a 'rocky' planet, not a gas planet. The 'problem' with this planet is that it is too close to the star for it to have formed there, and there is no stable orbital migration pattern which would allow it to have formed farther out and drifted inward as close as it has w/o almost immediately falling into the star itself.

Two possibilities: either the data is wrong or the theory is wrong.

Side note - It does not seem completely impossible, only extremely improbable, that a large meteor might fall close to the sun and end up being captured by it's gravity well and end up in a stable (or close to) orbit.

Disclaimer: I freely admit that I have no idea what I am talking about.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

Okonomiyaki (662220) | about 9 months ago | (#45287141)

I'm no mathemologist but, if something is 99.99999%, I believe that means we should expect to find 1 instance in 10,000,000 samples. So should we consider it odd if we actually find 1 within the first 1,000 samples? It's not impossible but it's probably something like 99.99% unlikely.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

harperska (1376103) | about 9 months ago | (#45287215)

It would be odd to find 1 in the first 1000 samples if the probability of detection was the same for every object out there. But not all planets have the same probability of detection.

The shorter its orbital period, the more likely it is that it will be detected as it will take less time to determine a pattern. Consider, it would take E.T. multiple years to detect Earth simply because they would have to detect multiple transits of Earth across the sun which of course happen once a year. It might take them 10 years of observations to be sure, as other planets transiting might screw up the signal. Whereas a planet that orbits in a couple of days will provide the same quality of data in a couple of weeks or months.

Re:It's a Big Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287679)

even that is still 1 in 99,999,999 planets will have that probability. With 100 Billion x 100 Billion (estimated amount of starts) x (what ever the average amount of planets is) then it's like oh that's like a huge amount of chance.

Re:It's a Big Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287709)

In an inifinitely-ish sized universe

...

Yes. But the size of the universe that we can observe planets in is not even approximately infinite. The number of stars within the range we can observe planets in is only about 1e+9 (!!). Small planets like the one in question are much harder to observe and could not plausibly be discovered at that kind of range, so maybe only 1e+6. We have only actually observed the tiniest fraction of that, so much smaller. That 99.99999% would suggest that this planet should not have been discovered. Even if it were 99.99%, I suspect we wouldn't have found this planet. The outliers we're finding at the moment shouldn't be *real* outliers, not in a galactic scale.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

rjch (544288) | about 9 months ago | (#45287889)

But the size of the universe that we can observe planets in is not even approximately infinite. The number of stars within the range we can observe planets in is only about 1e+9 (!!). Small planets like the one in question are much harder to observe and could not plausibly be discovered at that kind of range, so maybe only 1e+6. We have only actually observed the tiniest fraction of that, so much smaller. That 99.99999% would suggest that this planet should not have been discovered. Even if it were 99.99%, I suspect we wouldn't have found this planet. The outliers we're finding at the moment shouldn't be *real* outliers, not in a galactic scale.

You need to learn the math of percentages better and appreciate the size of the galaxy and the universe that we live in. even 0.01% of one million (1e+6) is a hundred planets. Bear in mind that the most distant exoplanet we've detected so far is in a different *galaxy* (21500 +- 3300 light years away) that puts a massive number of stars within range - certainly billions, possibly trillions, not just millions. Remember that there are estimated to be 400 billion stars in the Milky Way alone. Do you truly believe we can only see one out of four hundred of those stars?

When you're dealing with numbers on that sheer scale, you can be fairly sure that even if there's only a minuscule chance of something happening, it will have happened many, many times.

Re:It's a Big Universe (1)

wienerschnizzel (1409447) | about 9 months ago | (#45288781)

We had the technology to detect planets for at least 80 years yet the first efforts started just 30 years ago. You know why? Because our star system model predicted that there are no planets that meet the condition to be detected by us (big, close to the star).

A model based on a sample of one system.

After people discovered a whole bunch of such planets, I thought that people would realize that they should not judge the universe based on just our solar system, but here it is all over again.

Re:It's a Big Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45289359)

What if stars and gas giants poop out rocky planets and moons. Closely orbiting planets would not be an issue then??

It's obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286589)

aliens put it there.

Alien space craft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286615)

Sorry, just space craft gone havok - problems with navigational guidance computer (running extraterrestrial version of Windows 8.1)

Re:Alien space craft (2)

ArcherB (796902) | about 9 months ago | (#45286847)

Sorry, just space craft gone havok - problems with navigational guidance computer (running extraterrestrial version of Windows 8.1)

Actually, the space craft is running perfectly. It's solar powered and was running low on fuel. It's filling up before moving on..

Hell? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 9 months ago | (#45286617)

The answer is obvious. They didn't find a hellish rocky world; they discovered Hell. Naturally, this verifies quite a few things.

Re:Hell? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286833)

Seriously? Blow it out your ass. We don't need shit like that around here.
 
Oh, and your homepage sucks.

Re:Hell? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287629)

So now we just need to find the Heaven planet, and make peaceful contact.

Then we invade.

Average day... (-1, Flamebait)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45286641)

Hellish hot and spinning around for 8.5 hours, while it shouldn't be there at all...
Who's got a telescope pointed at my boss?

Re:Average day... (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about 9 months ago | (#45289307)

Hellish hot and spinning around for 8.5 hours, while it shouldn't be there at all...
Who's got a telescope pointed at my boss?

I didn't know you worked for my girlfriend...

"2000 Degrees," eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286661)

It orbits so close in fact that the alien world's surface temperature soars to 2,000 degrees hotter than Earth's.

Celsius? Fahrenheit? Kelvin? Rankine? What kind of idiots are they hiring at Discovery.com nowadays?

Re: "2000 Degrees," eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286695)

Kelvin. They use Kelvin when the topic is ET worlds unless otherwise specified.

Re: "2000 Degrees," eh? (1)

_merlin (160982) | about 9 months ago | (#45286945)

That wouldn't make sense at all, as it would be 2000 Kelvin, never 2000 degrees Kelvin since it's an absolute scale.

Re: "2000 Degrees," eh? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#45287147)

Not that there's really much of a different between 2000 degrees celcius, and 2273 K.

Re: "2000 Degrees," eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287187)

That's wouldn't make sense at all. It is either "2000 degrees Kelvin" or "2000 kelvin". The former was more common historically; the latter is SI. "2000 Kelvin" isn't anything.

The fact that it is an absolute scale is irrelevant.

Re: "2000 Degrees," eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45290365)

Since they're talking about a temperature difference, there is no difference between Celsius and Kelvin. So, if the measurements were made in Kelvin, reporting a temperature difference in 'degrees Celsius' is acceptable and correct.

Re:"2000 Degrees," eh? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286779)

Rankine: Completely obscure.
Fahrenheit: Only used in a couple third world countries.

Celsius or Kelvin : Both scientifically usefull, and identical in this situation so pick either.

Celsius? Fahrenheit? Kelvin? Rankine? What kind of idiots are they hiring at Discovery.com nowadays?

Smarter idiots than you apparently...

Re:"2000 Degrees," eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286931)

Are you defecating on us? C'mon, it's an American website! So, it's likely that the author thinks it Fahrenheit, and just as likely that he's not a good writer.

Re:"2000 Degrees," eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287171)

You idiot troll.

Re:"2000 Degrees," eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287249)

Plus "2,000 degrees hotter than Earth's" is going to be around 2000 degrees. (No matter the scale.) What does "hotter than Earth's" add?

Re:"2000 Degrees," eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287741)

It orbits so close in fact that the alien world's surface temperature soars to 2,000 degrees hotter than Earth's.

Celsius? Fahrenheit? Kelvin? Rankine? What kind of idiots are they hiring at Discovery.com nowadays?

Nobody with half a brain uses Fahrenheit in a scientific context. At that kind of temperature, it makes little difference if it is Celsius or Kelvin, it's within the error bars anyway. And who the fuck actually uses Rankine degrees? AFAIK they've been deprecated by just about everyone who gives a fuck.

Re:"2000 Degrees," eh? (2)

rjch (544288) | about 9 months ago | (#45287911)

Celsius? Fahrenheit? Kelvin? Rankine? What kind of idiots are they hiring at Discovery.com nowadays?

When you're talking about those kind of temperatures, it hardly matters. Rock melts at anywhere between 700 to 1200 degrees Celsius. 2000 degrees Fahrenheit is about 1100 degrees Celsius - still hot enough for rock to at least partially melt.

In any case, there are only *two* temperature scales that you have quoted there that result in different answers. The only difference between Kevin and Celsius is the base temperature - a difference of one degree Kelvin is exactly the same as a difference of one degree Celsius. Same goes for Fahrenheit vs Rankine.

In related news... (1, Funny)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 9 months ago | (#45286681)

the American public agrees that Wall Street should be moved to Kepler-78b.

Re:In related news... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286773)

No, the American public thinks all of the CEOS and boards who contributed to the economic downfall with unethical and illegal behavior should go to Kepler-78b.

Even as a moderate-left democrat, I'm still more than a gungo-ho fanboy of capitalism. It just needs government oversight in terms of (1) transparency and (2) providing a level playing field. Even monopolies can be good, if they're properly supervised and regulated.

Re:In related news... (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 9 months ago | (#45287203)

the American public agrees that Wall Street should be moved to Kepler-78b.

We just need some clever marketing and we can get them to go volunteer. It should go something like this:

Tired of those long work hours? Move to Kepler-78b! With it's synergistic proximity to its sun, you can implement an entire year's worth of productivity in just 8.5 hours thereby streamlining your cloud solutions on a quantum scale (exponentially). Who wants to deal with those long brutal winters in NYC? We have nothing but sun. In fact K78b's integration with a self sustaining source of clean energy allows you to dynamically aggregate almost three years of solar convergence in just 24 hours. If you thought you could maximize your initiatives with 365 days a year, just think what the paradigm shift of 1030 years in 365 days will do for your mind share! You'll be able to monetize your solutions beyond the vertical bleeding-edge!

OFFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286703)

What we do know is that it's not going to last forever.

Gee, really?

Planet for adoption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286811)

Did none of the scientists take into account that the star may have formed else where and picked up the planet in transit?

More creedence to the rogue planet theory? (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | about 9 months ago | (#45286841)

I think a planet like this is just more data backing up the rogue planet theory that some planets have formed either outside of solar systems with a star and/or have been flung out of their solar system when the system came too close to either a black hole or other solar systems. Or for transference of a planet from one solar system into another.

Re:More credence to the rogue planet theory? (1)

ppanon (16583) | about 9 months ago | (#45287437)

Actually, I would expect binary star systems to be much more likely candidates for origin of rogue planets.

Re:More creedence to the rogue planet theory? (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 9 months ago | (#45288347)

The problem is that the orbit is roughly circular in nature, thus why it is presumed there is some other mechanism at work. If the planet was orbiting in a highly elliptical orbit (such as is the case with many comets as seen in our solar system), it would make sense. That would have been detected from the combination of methods which were used to identify this planet.

Possibly there might be some other planets in this planetary system which could have helped to "circularize" the orbit. That is the big question at the moment though.

solar power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286869)

It is the power source of some alien race. A solar panel very close to the star sending power out to the home planet.

A sublime mystery... (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | about 9 months ago | (#45286933)

... I mean, wouldn't this "icarus planet" also suffer severe weathering from the stellar wind? How would that effect compare to the tidal stress induced breakup in 3 billion years?

Perhaps not strictly sublimation, if the rock turns to liquid first, but, y'know, made a better title, right?

Nothing to see just crematoria (1)

Bruha (412869) | about 9 months ago | (#45286967)

Just another no daylight slam.

" it's not going to last forever" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45286973)

then we'd better hurry up and inhabit it now.

Selection effects (3, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about 9 months ago | (#45287033)

A great many of the known exoplanets are large, close to their star or both. It should be noted that this does not directly represent how common large close in planets actually are.

We find exoplanets in two ways - by Doppler shift of the star, or by transits.

When a planet orbits a star, the star also orbits their common center of mass, so it wobbles slightly. By looking for subtle Doppler shift in its spectral lines, we can try to detect this wobble. The larger (mass) the planet, the further the star wobbles, and the larger the Doppler shift. Similarly, the closer the planet, the faster (and so more detectable) the wobble. (Even though it has less distance to travel, this is more than compensated for by how much shorter the orbital period is.)

When a planet transits its star (moves between the star and us) we can detect a decrease in the received light, as some is blocked by the planet. The larger (radius) the planet, the greater the decrease, and so more likely we'll be able to detect it. The closer the planet, the more likely that chance alignment will allow us to observe a transit. Also, the closer the planet, the more frequent the transits, and so the more chance one will happen when we're observing the star.

So this weird planet was quite possibly thousands of times easier to detect than an Earth-like planet in an Earth-like orbit. (In this case, discovery was by transit, targeted observations measured the Doppler shift. The combination allowed an estimate of its density.)

Re:Selection effects (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 9 months ago | (#45288859)

We find exoplanets in two ways - by Doppler shift of the star, or by transits.

Don't forget finding them by microlensing events, direct observation, and (possibly, in the future) astrometrics (i.e. actually observing the star change position).

See! See! (4, Funny)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 9 months ago | (#45287115)

Scientists don't know something! This only proves that Global warming isn't real, that evolution is a farce, and the world was created in 4004 b.c.

Re:See! See! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45289275)

Bah I hate you closed minded Global warming closed minded heretics - every one knows it 4003 b.c

Should? (0)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 9 months ago | (#45287121)

The fact of the matter is that the planet exists. There is no should about it. It is our understanding of planet formation that can't explain it. Don't blame the planet for our lack of knowledge.

KHAAAAANNN! (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about 9 months ago | (#45287189)

This is Ceti Alpha V.

Seriously though, a larger planet cracking or the surface being blasted away by stellar wind is the best bet, especially since the orbit lacks the eccentricity of a captured planet that came from elsewhere.

MOD PARENT DOWN!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45288435)

Idiot, it is Ceti Alpha VI.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45290277)

"Ceti Alpha Seex, checks out!"

I'm Watching... (1)

Conception (212279) | about 9 months ago | (#45287211)

I think the coolest thing about this, and planets like it, are if you were in a spaceship, fairly close, you could watch it swing around the sun in real time. Like a slow clock hand... or actually, I suppose, a fast one.

I am curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45287431)

Could it be a planet caught by the expansion of a star as it gets older? As I understand it, don't Stars get bigger as they grow older and consume other worlds? Maybe it is a planet orbiting a Red Giant.

Re:I am curious (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 9 months ago | (#45288389)

The star is apparently in the middle of its main sequence stage of life. Nice try on the suggestion though. The physics of what happens at that point of stellar development is pretty well understood, as is the size of a star with that spectral classification (aka its "color").

Sweet... (1)

SB9876 (723368) | about 9 months ago | (#45287495)

...That's one rainbow world down, we'll be swimming in sweet, sweet Melnorme trade credits in no time now.

Was't Riddick (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 9 months ago | (#45287671)

filmed there on Crematoria?

But, Kepler-78b people might think... (1)

v4vijayakumar (925568) | about 9 months ago | (#45288209)

Earth is too cold for anyone to live. :p

Re:But, Kepler-78b people might think... (1)

Rob Simpson (533360) | about 9 months ago | (#45288749)

Not after we trading cigarettes to them for gold and platinum.

Interesting Mining Target (1)

Bruha (412869) | about 9 months ago | (#45288803)

What's interesting is that all the metals on the planet if entirely molten could be found and siphoned off from orbit if we had the technology to do so. It would be like guessing the layers of an onion more or less. Gold and other metals would be at certain depths based on their weights compared to others.

Solaris (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45288857)

> Kepler-78b: It shouldn't exist at all. 'This planet is a complete mystery ... We don't know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it's not going to last forever.'"

The impossible planet exists because its surface is not covered by lava, but several billions of tons of protoplasma that generates gravity and actively modulates the planet's orbit. In the future, earthlings are going to build a levitating research base to study this unique planet and strange things will happen to the scientists stationed there.

Cosmic billiards (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 9 months ago | (#45289131)

We know rogue planets and black holes roam the space between the stars. If this planet truly could not have formed there, gravitation interaction with a transient high mass object seems like a probable culprit. Or perhaps the planet itself was once rogue, happened along, and then fell into an unfortunate orbit.

I'm sure scientists are already pondering these possibilities, but I didn't see it in the article.

Push (1)

Meneth (872868) | about 9 months ago | (#45289197)

Perhaps the pushing effect of solar radiation and solar wind keeps it from falling into the star.

Falling in (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 9 months ago | (#45290007)

Is it possible that the planet formed further out, is falling in, and we just were lucky enough to have caught it before it falls in? (Of course, given distances and the speed of light, it's probably already fallen in.)

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