'Godzilla of Earths' Could Harbor Life
Kepler-10c is massive, old, and rocky—a shocking combination
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2014 8:00 AM CDT
Updated Jun 2, 2014 7:45 PM CDT
An artist's rendering of Kepler-10c and the sun it orbits.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Kepler-10c is a big, rocky planet that may harbor life—but what's most interesting is how big and rocky it is, Space.com reports. An exoplanet about 560 light-years away in the constellation Draco, Kepler-10c was spotted in 2011 and assumed to be gaseous because of its size. But closer inspection showed it was heavy—17 times more than Earth—which meant it was rocky, a development that shocked geophysicists who assumed rocky planets were kept smaller by the compression of gravity, reports New Scientist. "This suggestion of a rocky planet 2.3 times the size of Earth blows me away," said a Kepler team member.

Kepler-10c is also quite old, dating back to about 3 billion years after the Big Bang—a fact that should expand our search for extra-terrestrial life. "Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought. And if you can make rocks, you can make life," said a Harvard astronomer who dubbed the planet "Godzilla of Earths." So is it liveable? Only if there's an atmosphere and clouds to cool things down, because the planet's surface temperature should otherwise be a sizzling 590 Fahrenheit, the Guardian reports. (For more planetary news, read about water vapor spotted on a tiny planet in our solar system.)

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Showing 3 of 22 comments
$103359148
Jun 3, 2014 9:44 AM CDT
may harbor life = pseudoscience code word for give us more funding. The public should demand the space program be shut down, a total waste of money.
Ballantyne
Jun 3, 2014 6:37 AM CDT
Wouldn't the gravity of something like that crush us?
Bill Inaz
Jun 3, 2014 6:22 AM CDT
"... a development that shocked geophysicists who assumed rocky planets were kept smaller by the compression of gravity...said a Harvard astronomer who dubbed the planet "Godzilla of Earths." Nice to know that scientists had 'settled' on things to point of assumptions were able to be 'shocked. On the other hand, let's hope they know that 'Godzilla", as far as we know...was just a movie.