Shop Windows to the Universe

Young Voices for the Planet DVD in our online store includes 8 films where students speak out and take action on climate change.
Artist's conception of the super-Earth discovered orbiting GJ1214, a dim red dwarf star located 40 light-years away. GJ1214b was found by the MEarth project, which uses off-the-shelf amateur technology to spot transiting exoplanets. GJ1214b is about 2.7 times the size of Earth and weighs 6.5 times as much. Models suggest it is made of about three-fourths water and one-fourth rock. Observations suggest that it also has a substantial hydrogen/helium atmosphere.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of David Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

Waterworld Discovered Orbiting a Nearby Star
News story originally written on December 16, 2009

Astronomers have discovered a planet about 40 light-years from Earth that contains water. The planet, called GJ1214b, is a super-Earth, which means it is close to the size of Earth. It is too hot to contain life, but it is more like Earth than any other planet that has been discovered outside our solar system.

They discovered the super-Earth using telescopes that are the same size as telescopes many non-scientists have in their backyards. GJ1214b orbits a red dwarf star called GJ1214. This star is about one-fifth the size of the Sun and isn't very bright compared to the Sun.

"Since we found the super-earth using a small ground-based telescope, this means that anyone else with a similar telescope and a good CCD camera can detect it too. Students around the world can now study this super-earth!" said David Charbonneau of CfA, lead author and head of the MEarth project.

Last modified March 30, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

What is a planet?

Do you know what a planet is? Guess what... astronomers are not quite sure what a planet is! Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are the planets closest to the Sun. They are definitely all planets. They are...more

Elliptical Orbits

Do you think Earth moves around the Sun in a circle? That is almost true, but not quite. The shape of Earth's orbit isn't quite a perfect circle. It is more like a "stretched out" circle or an...more

Magnitude - a measure of brightness

Astronomers use a special term to talk about the brightness of stars. The term is "magnitude". The magnitude scale was invented by the ancient Greeks around 150 B.C. The Greeks put the stars they could...more

Triggers of Volcanic Eruptions in Oregon's Mount Hood Investigated

Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. Adam Kent, a geologist at Oregon State University, says this...more

Oldest Earth Mantle Reservoir Discovered

The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core. The mantle is made up of many different reservoirs that have different chemical compositions. Scientists...more

It’s Not Your Fault – A Typical Fault, Geologically Speaking, That Is

Some faults look strong and like they wouldn’t cause an earthquake. But it turns out that they can slip and slide like weak faults causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults...more

Lower Solar Activity Linked to Changes in Sun's Conveyor Belt

The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA