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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Alien World Is More Earth-Like Than Any Found
30 October 2013 2:15 pm
Astronomers have discovered an alien world that’s more Earth-like in its size and composition than any ever found. It’s so close to its star, however, and consequently so infernally hot, that it’s more of a hellish cousin to Earth than a twin. The object (shown above, in an artist's impression), christened Kepler-78b, is one of hundreds of worlds beyond our solar system detected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which has been monitoring the brightness of some 150,000 stars in the Milky Way in search of planets orbiting them. The majority of these so-called exoplanets are gas giants—big balls of gas and dust that are several times larger in radius than Earth. But Kepler-78b is only 80% more massive than Earth and 20% larger in radius, two groups of researchers report online today in Nature. That makes it about as dense as Earth and suggests that it is composed of rock and iron. But the object’s distance from its star (which is somewhat smaller than our sun) is only about twice the star’s radius, which means that the star would loom on the horizon like a gigantic disk, filling up a large part of the sky. Not a bad view, if you didn’t mind being burned to a crisp.