- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Astronomers have been confounded by the discovery of a massive, rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth, challenging traditional explanations of how planets are formed.

Kepler-10c, as it has been named, is too hot to sustain life as we know it, orbiting a star like our own sun every 45 days. Previously, it had been measured at 2.3 times the size of Earth, according to NASA, and new research done using the HARPS-North instrument on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands is responsible for this most recent discovery.

According to NASA, “Worlds such as this were not thought possible to exist. The enormous gravitational force of such a massive body would accrete a gas envelope during formation, ballooning the planet to a gas giant the size of Neptune or even Jupiter. However, this planet is thought to be solid, composed primarily of rock.”

“Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, nature gives you a huge surprise — in this case, literally,” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler mission scientist who works out of California. “Isn’t science marvelous?”