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Main » 2011 » September » 14 » What On Earth Is A Super-Earth? (Video)
2:04 AM
What On Earth Is A Super-Earth? (Video)

For starters, it’s not found on Earth but in a far away system orbiting a star. See, the Super-Earth is a category of rocky planet within a ‘habitable zone’ where proximity determines whether water deposits may or may not exist. A super-earth is also much larger than our Earth (hence ‘super’), having heftier mass as a result. Not surprising, since water is oh so essential to supporting life. The picture down south? Not a Super-Earth. In case you didn’t recognize it that’s Reach from the Halo universe before the Covenant laid waste to it. A stand in if you will.

Even if space programs around the world are currently cash-strapped and long term mission-less, that doesn’t mean the scientific community are resting on their laurels. The ESO in particular have been obsessing over distant worlds via their awesome HARPS spectograph atop the frigid mountains of Chile. ESO? HARPS? Respectively, European Southern Observatory. Their instrument is the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher.

Mind you, HARPS isn’t your average giant telescope. it’s only 11 feet long, give or take a few inches and measures Doppler shifts to determine the location of planets.  So far it has tagged 50 interesting worlds and among the 50, 16 are runners up for genuine Super-Earth status. But the real media darling at the moment is the mysterious H 85512 b. Remember it. Your descendants might be flying to dear old H 85512 b sometime. It’s allegedly heavier than the earth and has a rocky surface. Water? Not sure yet.

Mucho excellente! A video to help explain matters:


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