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Article of the Month: Updated August 12, 2016

A possible super-Earth/mini-Neptune world hundreds of times more distant than Earth is from the Sun.

A possible super-Earth/mini-Neptune world hundreds of times more distant than Earth is from the Sun. Image credit: R. Hurt / Caltech (IPAC)





Is there a super-Earth in the Solar System out beyond Neptune?

When the advent of large telescopes brought us the discoveries of Uranus and then Neptune, they also brought the great hope of a Solar System even richer in terms of large, massive worlds. While the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt were each found to possess a large number of substantial icy-and-rocky worlds, none of them approached even Earth in size or mass, much less the true giant worlds. Then, the discovery of Sedna in 2003 turned out to be even more groundbreaking than astronomers realized.



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This article is provided by NASA Space Place. With articles, activities, crafts, games, and lesson plans, NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov to explore space and Earth science!





Previous month's article:

Venus and Jupiter prepare for their close-up this August

As Earth speeds along in its annual journey around the Sun, it consistently overtakes the slower-orbiting outer planets, while the inner worlds catch up to and pass Earth periodically. Sometime after an outer world—particularly a slow-moving gas giant—gets passed by Earth, it appears to migrate closer and closer to the Sun, eventually appearing to slip behind it from our perspective. If you've been watching Jupiter this year, it's been doing exactly that, moving consistently from east to west and closer to the Sun ever since May 9th.

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Educator Newsletter

You are also welcome to use our bimonthly Educator Newsletter in your publication. It features new content on NASA Space Place as well as resources for teachers, downloads, and notable calendar days in science history.






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Play and learn

Simple and fun learning activities to share with children.

The Space Place Experiment Center—Students can conduct real life science experiments and learn how the world works.

Make a Pinwheel Galaxy pinwheel—Make a pinwheel that looks just like M101, the pinwheel galaxy.

Make a Fan with Earth’s Layers—To remember that Earth is much more than just the surface we see every day, make this Earth layer fan.



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page published on August 12, 2016

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