Rocky planet only 500 light-years away

Of course the travel guide says it’s incredibly hot (2000C) on the day side and super-cold (-200C) on the night side, but it’s still the first rocky planet confirmed outside our own solar system. The planet, CoRoT-7b, orbits the star CoRoT-7 in the Monoceros, or Unicorn, constellation. The names all get more sensible when you learn the planet was detected in 2008 by the CoRoT satellite.*

Or you could just call it “the Lava Planet,” which is sexier and easier to type. Also cool: It’s so close to its sun and moving so fast that its year is 20.4 hours.  So dress in layers, and hang on tight.

The Knight Science Journalism Tracker has a dry little report on how various news sources have, or have not, irresponsibly inflated the finding’s relevance to the search for alien life. There’s a good roundup of links that show the spectrum of reaction, scientific and non-.

*The satellite’s name apparently stands for COnvection, ROtation and planetary Transits, but that tips back over towards unintelligibility.

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