By Miriam Kramer
BOSTON – Scientists have just discovered the “Godzilla of Earths” — a new type of huge and rocky alien world about 560 light-years from Earth.
Dubbed a “mega-Earth,” the exoplanet Kepler-10c weighs 17 times as much as Earth and it circles a sunlike star in the constellation Draco. The mega-Earth is rocky and also bigger than “super-Earths,” which are a class of planets that are slightly bigger than Earth.
Theorists weren’t actually sure that a world like the newfound exoplanet could exist. Scientists thought that planets of Kepler-10c’s size would be gaseous, collecting hydrogen as they grew and turning into Jupiter-like worlds. However, researchers have now found that the newly discovered planet is rocky, Christine Pulliam, a spokeswoman with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, wrote in a statement announcing the find. [The Strangest Alien Planets Ever Found (Gallery)]