Friday, October 2, 2009

Rocky planet where it rains rocks

On Earth, strange things, including frogs and fish, sometimes fall from the sky, but on a distant extrasolar planet, the weather could be even weirder: When a front moves in, small rocks rain down on the surface, a new study suggests.

The exoplanet, COROT-7b, was discovered in February by the COROT space telescope launched by the French and European space agencies. Last month it became the first planet outside our solar system to be confirmed as a rocky body — most other known exoplanets are gas giants.

The planet is nearly twice the size of Earth and about five times the mass of our world. Calculations have indicated it has a density about that of Earth's, which means it is likely made up of silicate rocks, just as Earth's crust is. More>>