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Yahoo! News Story - On Alien World, It Rains Rocks - Yahoo! News

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  • Mark Holmes
    Mark Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@yahoo.com) has sent you a news article. (Email address has not been verified.) ... Personal message: On Alien World, It Rains Rocks -
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 1, 2009
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      Mark Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@...) has sent you a news article.
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      On Alien World, It Rains Rocks - Yahoo! News

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20091001/sc_space/onalienworlditrainsrocks

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      http://news.yahoo.com/
    • mahtezcatpoc
      ... That s COROT-7b, a planet of the star COROT-7. COROT = Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COROT COROT (COnvection
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 28, 2009
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        --- In thefixedstars@yahoogroups.com, Mark Holmes <mahtezcatpoc@...> wrote:
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        > Mark Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@...) has sent you a news article.
        > (Email address has not been verified.)
        > ------------------------------------------------------------
        > Personal message:
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        > On Alien World, It Rains Rocks - Yahoo! News
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        > http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20091001/sc_space/onalienworlditrainsrocks
        >


        That's COROT-7b, a planet of the star COROT-7.

        COROT = Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COROT

        "COROT (COnvection ROtation and planetary Transits) is a space mission led by the French Space Agency (CNES) in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA) and other international partners. The mission's two objectives are to search for extrasolar planets with short orbital periods, particularly those of large terrestrial size, and to perform asteroseismology by measuring solar-like oscillations in stars. It was launched at 14:28:00 UTC on 27 December 2006, atop a Soyuz 2.1b carrier rocket. COROT subsequently reported first light on 18 January 2007. COROT is the first spacecraft dedicated to extrasolar planet detection. It detected its first extrasolar planet, COROT-1b, in May 2007.[ Mission flight operations were originally scheduled to end 2.5 years from launch but apparently flight operations have been extended to January, 2010."


        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COROT-7

        RA 6h 43m 49.0s
        Declination −01 03 46.0


        In Monoceros, northeast of 19 Monocerotis.

        12 Cancer 09 (2000).



        Mark A. Holmes
      • mahtezcatpoc
        ... On Alien World, It Rains Rocks SPACE.com Andrea Thompson Senior Writer SPACE.com – Thu Oct 1, 10:01 am ET On Earth, strange things, including frogs and
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 28, 2009
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          --- In thefixedstars@yahoogroups.com, Mark Holmes <mahtezcatpoc@...> wrote:
          >
          > Mark Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@...) has sent you a news article.
          > (Email address has not been verified.)
          > ------------------------------------------------------------
          > Personal message:
          >
          >
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          > On Alien World, It Rains Rocks - Yahoo! News
          >
          > http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20091001/sc_space/onalienworlditrainsrocks
          >
          >


          On Alien World, It Rains Rocks
          SPACE.com


          Andrea Thompson
          Senior Writer
          SPACE.com – Thu Oct 1, 10:01 am ET

          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 is 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.

          The planet is likely much less hospitable to life though, as it is only about 1.6 million miles (2.6 million km) away from its parent star — 23 times closer than Mercury sits to the sun.

          Locked and scorching

          Because the planet is so close to the star, it is gravitationally locked to it in the same way the Moon is locked to Earth. One side of the planet always faces its star, just as one side of the Moon always faces Earth.

          This star-facing side has a temperature of about 4,220 degrees Fahrenheit (2,326 degrees Celsius) — hot enough to vaporize rock.

          So unlike the much cooler Earth, COROT-7b has no volatile gases (carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrogen) in its atmosphere. Instead it's atmosphere consists of what might be called vaporized rock.

          "The only atmosphere this object has is produced from vapor arising from hot molten silicates in a lava lake or lava ocean," said Bruce Fegley Jr., of Washington University in St. Louis.

          Rocky weather forecast

          To find out what COROT-7b's atmosphere might be like, Fegley and his colleagues modeled it. They found that COROT-7b's atmosphere is made up of the ingredients of rocks and when "a front moves in," pebbles condense out of the air and rain into lakes of molten lava below.

          "Sodium, potassium, silicon monoxide and then oxygen — either atomic or molecular oxygen — make up most of the atmosphere," Fegley said. But there are also smaller amounts of the other elements found in silicate rock, such as magnesium, aluminum, calcium and iron.

          The rock rains form similarly to Earth's watery weather: "As you go higher the atmosphere gets cooler and eventually you get saturated with different types of 'rock' the way you get saturated with water in the atmosphere of Earth," Fegley explained. "But instead of a water cloud forming and then raining water droplets, you get a 'rock cloud' forming and it starts raining out little pebbles of different types of rock."


          ...
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