Astronomers discover a close new planet – covered in oceans of magma

In a surprise find, astronomers have discovered a planet possibly covered with oceans of magma “right around the corner.”

Thirty-three light years away, “we have a sub-Earth-sized planet that’s slightly larger than Mars and essentially right around the corner, at least on a cosmic scale,” said Kevin Stevenson, a planetary scientist now at the University of Chicago

UCF-1.01 is about 5,200 miles (8,400 kilometers) wide, making about a quarter the volume of Earth. And with a year that lasts only 1.4 Earth days, the new planet’s orbit takes UCF-1.01 searingly close to its star.

“It could be a thousand degrees Fahrenheit [540 degrees Celsius]. That may be hot enough to make an ocean of molten rock.”

Researchers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope essentially stumbled upon the new planet while studying a hot, Neptune-size planet called GJ 436b.

 

Learn more: National Geographic – New Planet Found: Molten “Mars” Is “Right Around the Corner”

 

 

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New sci-fi movie from M. Night Shyamalan starring Will Smith and son – After Earth

It wasn’t enough for M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith to create a sci-fi film. For After Earth, they patterned an entirely new world history (or at least paid some really geeky people to do it for them).

The film is set 1,000 years in the future, and most of mankind has moved on to another planet light-years away. “Nova Prime has been colonized by humans for about 200 years,” said After Earth screenwriter Gary Whitta during a Comic-Con panel for the film, which is scheduled for release next year. “Earth is just kind of a memory that is taught in history classes.”

Nova Prime looks a lot like Utah (because it’s filmed in Utah), and that’s where the story starts. Smith plays Cypher Rage, a general in a military unit called the Rangers, while his real-life son Jaden plays his fictional son Kitai. The younger Rage aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Rangers. When an errant asteroid damages their ship, it causes them to crash-land on the most inhospitable planet in the universe — Earth.

Separated during the crash, Kitai must battle his way across an aggressive and deadly planet to reach his injured father, who is in bad shape. The journey will take Kitai through jungle, desert, forest and probably a few Shyamalanesque plot twists.

 

Learn more details: Wired – Universe-Building With Your After Earth Hosts, Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan

 

 

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