Illustration of one of the exotic super-Earth candidates, 55 Cnc e, which are rich in sapphires and rubies. These are aluminum oxides that are abundant on these planets. Image: Thibaut Roger
Exotic class of super-Earths found - space short science news

Rocky planets normally form in a dispersing disc of gas (the proto-planetary gas disc) that surrounds a star, in regions rich in iron, magnesium and silicon. This gives rise to Earth-like planets with an iron core.

Now, astronomers have found three super-Earths that do not have an iron core, but rather one that is made of calcium and aluminum. They will therefore not have a magnetic field as Earth has.

Also, they have formed close to their star under very hot conditions. This gives these exotic super-Earths (five times the mass of Earth) a range of unique properties, such as 10-20% lower density than Earth.

Read the full story: University of Zürich
Scientific publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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