"NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has confirmed the existence of a completely new type of planet.
By analyzing the previously identified world GJ 1214b -- an Earth-like superplanet located outside of our solar system -- astronomer Zachory Berta and his team have discovered a strangely unique water-based planet.
When it comes to planets, our solar system contains three distinct types: rocky and terrestrial like Mars and Earth, gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn, and ice giants like Uranus and Neptune.
GJ 1214b, researchers soon realized, was none of the above.
“GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of,” said Berta, who hails from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.”
“The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like ‘hot ice’ or ‘superfluid water’ -- substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience,” Berta said.
Life too, if it exists, will certainly be weird.
"This planet will occupy us for years. That’s part of what’s so exciting about it.”