GJ 1214b: New Planet Discovered: Name That Planet
A new planet, named GJ 1214b, was discovered 40 light years away from Earth. The new planet is 2.5 times the size of Earth, and appears to be a "water world". Wired Magazine is running an online poll to name the planet, but at the time of this writing it was hacked. Meanwhile, I suggest Planet Zarkon but take our own poll too.
Scientists believe that atmospheric pressure is keeping the planet's water in a liquid state, as the surface temperature could be as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204C). That sort of superheated water would not be able to support life as we know it.
If you could ride a spaceship to this planet — which you couldn't, because it is 40 light-years away — you would first approach the small, feeble red star that the planet orbits once every 38 hours, Charbonneau says. Then you'd see the planet, bigger and heavier than Earth, and probably enshrouded in an alien atmosphere.
Currently we are unable to learn much more about the newly-discovered planet, but at least we can get a clearer look using existing tools.
Charbonneau is hopeful that more will be learned about this new planet by using the Hubble Space Telescope to look at light from the star that passes through the planet's atmosphere. "Imprinted on that are the fingerprints of whatever gases are present in the atmosphere," he says.
What should be the name of the new planet GJ 1214?