Did you hear the one about the planet that's boiling away? Astronomers working with data from NASA's Kepler planet-hunting telescope say they're seeing evidence that a star system 1,500 light-years from Earth has a "super-Mercury" orbiting less than a million miles from its sun. At that distance, they surmise that the blasted world (known as KIC 12557548) is slowly being vaporized by temperatures in excess of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius).
The report about the boiling planet appears on ArXiv.org, and was the focus of a posting by Bad Astronomy blogger Phil Plait. It's also the top story on the Weekly Space Hangout, a Google+ live video show that brings together a gaggle of space writers, including yours truly. Check out the hourlong video above for more about KIC 12557548 as well as the other stories listed below:
- 'Pillars of Creation' reloaded (11:30)
- Universe Today's Nancy Atkinson on the dark-matter galaxy (16:13)
- Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla on the Phobos-Grunt endgame (and her space craft projects) (23:09)
- Astronomy Cast's Pamela Gay on the quest to take a picture of a black hole (28:41)
- Questions from the audience (36:00)
This week's Hangout panel also included Discovery News' Nicole Gugliucci (the Noisy Astronomer) and Universe Today's Jon Voisey (the Angry Astronomer), with Universe Today's Fraser Cain as host, organizer and moderator. Tune in at 1 p.m. ET Thursday for the next installment of the Weekly Space Hangout, and check out these archived vidcasts:
- Jan. 12: Planets, dark matter, "Trek" tricorders and more
- Jan. 5: NASA's moon probes, the hype over 2012 and more
- Dec. 20: All about Kepler's alien worlds
Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.