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MIT Research: New Earth
EddieStarr | October 17, 2008 at 02:18 amby
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" Young planets around other stars may be easier to spot because they stay hotter way longer than astronomers have thought, according to new work by MIT planetary scientist Linda Elkins-Tanton.
For a few million years after their initial formation, planets like Earth may maintain a hot surface of molten rock that would glow brightly enough to make them stand out as they orbit neighboring stars.
Research shows that even after the surface magma solidifies, within about five million years, it could stay hot enough to glow brightly in infrared light for tens of millions of years, providing a relatively long window for detectability.
The big problem for astronomers hoping to detect planets around other stars is the vast difference in brightness between the star and the planet, which shines only by reflecting light from its parent star. But the difference in brightness in infrared wavelengths for a glowing, molten planetary surface would be much less, making the detection more feasible..."