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Fri Jul 20, 2012, 04:51 PM

Planet UCF 1.01 is introduced to the world of astronomy

By Scott Powers, Orlando Sentinel
6:36 p.m. EST, July 18, 2012

... Planet UCF 1.01, an “exoplanet” orbiting a red dwarf star called GJ 436, is about two-thirds the size of Earth and only 33 light years distant. “Cosmically speaking, that’s right around the corner,” said discoverer Kevin Stevenson, though that works out to 194 trillion miles.

Exoplanets circle stars beyond our Sun, but only a handful smaller than Earth have been discovered, according to NASA. UCF 1.01 is about 5,200 miles in diameter, slightly larger than Mars, smaller than Venus.

It’s so close to its star – GJ 436 is about half the size of our Sun – that it revolves around it once every 1.4 days (about 33 1/2 hours.) It’s so hot, at least 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that it has no atmosphere and may have a molten surface.

The discovery will be detailed in an article to be published online today by The Astrophysical Journal ...


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