A newly found exoplanet called K2-229b is about 20% larger and 2.5 times more massive than Earth.
But the international team of astronomers, who recently discovered it, say it’s more like a super-charged version of our solar-system’s innermost planet, Mercury.
They describe the planet as hot, metallic, made of iron and nickel, circles an orange K-dwarf star and is located about 339 light-years away in the constellation Virgo.
The discovery was made by the team after analyzing data gathered by the NASA Kepler Space Telescope’s K2 mission.
The researchers say their discovery is the first time an exoplanet that resembles Mercury has been found.
K2-229b is said to orbit closely to its star at a distance of about 1.8 million kilometers.
The temperature of the dayside of this tidally locked planet is said to be around 2,000 degrees Celsius which can vaporize rock.
The scientists say the came up with two theories regarding the exoplanet’s dense and metallic origins.
On theory posits that since the planet is so close to its host star (K2-229) intense stellar winds and flares from it may have eroded K2-229b’s atmosphere.
Another proposes that the exoplanet was created in a way similar to how the Moon is thought to have been formed according to the “Giant Impact Theory”.
This currently accepted hypothesis suggests that a Mars-sized planet skimmed the Earth billions of years ago leaving debris disk that later gathered and formed the Moon.
The researchers outline their discovery and subsequent findings in a study that was recently published by the journal Nature Astronomy.