Researchers said on Wednesday it is the largest rocky planet ever discovered and would be the first planetary core ever found, offering a unique opportunity to better understand the interiors of gas giants like Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.
The planet, called TOI-849b, orbits a star a bit smaller and cooler than the sun, located 730 light years from Earth. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).
Gas giants are composed of a solid core surrounded by a vast atmosphere mostly of hydrogen and helium.
Its diameter of 27,000 miles (43,500 km) is a bit less than Neptune, the smallest of our solar system’s four gas planets, but much larger than Earth’s 7,900 miles (12,700 km). It orbits extremely near its star – much closer than our solar system’s innermost planet Mercury is to the sun – and travels 10 times more quickly than Earth, completing an orbit every 18 hours.