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A New Class of 'Light' Super Earth May Be Heavy in Rubies and Sapphires



 The exoplanet 55 Cancri e falls into a new category of super-earth with a composition that suggests alien planets might be rich in rubies and sapphires. </p>
<p>                    <cite class= Credit: Thibaut Roger

A newfound child of super-Earth alien planet might glitter with rubies and sapphires, a new study finds.

As researchers have discovered worlds around other stars, one class of thesis exoplanets that popped up the the super-Earths: rocky planets that can reach 1

0 times the mass of our own. Much remains a mystery about super-Earths, as none are known in the solar system.

To shed light on super-Earths, a group of researchers working in Switzerland and England. Planets coalesce from protoplanetary disks of gas and dust that surround newborn stars. Temperatures vary in these disks, depending on how close or far their ingredients are to or from stars. The scientists reasoned that this could lead to the formation of a variety of planets that differ from one another, based on composition. [Historic Photo Is 1st View of Alien World Being Born]

Now the researchers suggest they have discovered a new class of super-earth – one that's rich in sapphires and rubies.

"We found that the compositional diversity of planets – super-Earths in particular – might be much larger than previous thought," lead study author Caroline Dorn, an exoplanet scientist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, told Space.com.

Scientists conducting previous research have often thought of super-Earths as rich in iron, much like Earth, Dorn said. These would have been formed in the cool parts of protoplanetary disks.

However, Dorn and her colleagues suggest this new type of super-Earth is loaded with calcium and aluminum, as well as the mineral rich in these elements, including sapphires and rubies.

The scientists calculated that this new class of super-Earth should be 10 to 20 percent less dense than Earth.

For example, Dorn and her colleagues have considered the super-Earths 55 cancres and WASP-47s, which prior to that proposed unusually light densities. They are extremely hot, which makes them extremely hot ago. A third previously studied planet, HD 219134b,

"Given our models and the observations, there are good chances that the studied planets have very different interior aspects compared to the majority of super-Earths "Thorn said."

The scientists find their findings online. 18 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Follow Charles Q. Choi on Twitter @cqchoi . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.


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