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American space agency, NASA announced that it as discovered a rocky exoplanet, which is one of the closest finds to the Earth with 1.4 times its diameter and 4.6 times its mass.
Kepler-10b has been discovered by agency's habitable planet-seeking Kepler mission. The planet orbits very closely to its star, Kepler-10 and thus is too hot to sustain life. It is at a distance of 560 light years from Earth. Kepler-10b is the first of what's expected to be hundreds of Earth-scale planets found by the Kepler mission.
Natalie Batalha, an astronomer from San Jose State University who is part of the discovery team said that the planet is a "scorched world." The temperature on the sun facing side would be 1,370 degrees Celsius while that on the dark side would be too chilly for life. She added that it impossible for the planet to be able to hold an atmosphere. The planet is the smallest worlds ever found in the faraway planetary system.
The Kepler mission, which was launched in March 2009, identified a list of stars as potential hosts of small planets between the period of May 2009 and January 2010. The photometer on the spacecraft recorded drop in light as a body transited Kepler-10. This helped researchers calculate the planet's size, orbital period and distance from its star.
The discovery was reported today at the American Astronomical Socyty's winter meeting in Seattle. A research paper for the discovery will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.