Academic journal article Science and Children

Earthlike Planets Have Earthlike Interiors

Academic journal article Science and Children

Earthlike Planets Have Earthlike Interiors

Article excerpt

Every school kid learns the basic structure of Earth: a thin outer crust, a thick mantle, and a Mars-sized core. But will rocky exoplanets orbiting other stars have the same three layers? New research suggests that the answer is yes: They will have interiors very similar to Earth.

To reach this conclusion, researchers applied a computer model known as the Preliminary Reference Earth Model (PREM), the standard model for Earth's interior. They adjusted it to accommodate different masses and compositions and applied it to six known rocky exoplanets with well-measured masses and physical sizes.

They found that the other planets, despite their differences from Earth, all should have a nickel-iron core containing about 30% of the planet's mass. In comparison, about one-third of Earth's mass is in its core. The remainder of each planet would be mantle and crust, just as with Earth.

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"We've only understood Earth's structure for the past hundred years. Now we can calculate the structures of planets orbiting other stars, even though we can't visit them," says lead author of the study Li Zeng. …

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