A collaboration of researchers from the University of Zurich and Cambridge, studying the formation of exoplanets, may have discovered a new class of exotic exoplanet that would be part of HD219134 b. This exoplanet located in the constellation Cassiopeia is 21 light-years from Earth and could probably be covered with a carpet of rubies and sapphires.
super-earths like no other
As we pointed out in our previous paper about the hot Neptune desert induced by the transformation of this class of objects into super-Earths, the distant Universe would be populated for the most part by these exoplanets whose size does not exceed ten land masses. Although our solar system has none – the more massive planets than the Earth are gaseous giants like Jupiter and Saturn – it is different for extrasolar planets whose detections by the Kepler space telescope already count several hundred of this type exoplanet.
According to a study jointly conducted by researchers from the University of Zurich and Cambridge and published in the British journal MNRAS , HD219134 b – an exoplanet located in the constellation Cassiopeia with a mass of about 5 times that of the Earth – would part of a new category of exotic exoplanets. For the moment, scientists have relied solely on a theoretical model to explain the formation of this planet as well as the two other contenders WASP -47 e and 55 Cnc e .
A new class of exoplanets
These exoplanets covered with rubies and sapphires would be the result of a planetary formation different from that which researchers have so far been able to study, like the formation of rock planets similar to the Earth. According to Caroline Dorn of the University of Zurich, the very hot zones, close to a star, induce that “many elements are still in the gas phase and the planetary building blocks have a completely different composition” .
According to their theoretical model, the planets formed in these extremely hot regions are mainly composed of aluminum and calcium and do not have a ferrous core, which explains why”Why such planets can not, for example, have a magnetic field similar to the Earth” . In conclusion, the researchers believe that they are facing a new exotic class of exoplanets formed under very high temperatures and whose cooling behavior and atmosphere are very different from the super-Earths usually studied.
The three candidates for this new category are, as mentioned above, HD219134 b, WASP -47 e, as well as 55 Cnc e. The latter had been presented, in 2012, as “a diamond in the sky” , researchers are now correcting this information that had been relayed by the media worldwide: it would be rather rubies and sapphires rather than diamonds!
Nevertheless, do not expect other researchers to emit the idea of exploiting these celestial ores as we read this week in the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report: 21 light years away and in an extremely hot environment, it may be a bit complicated!