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Size comparison of Kepler-10c, with Earth and Neptune

A mega-Earth is a massive terrestrial exoplanet that is at least ten times the mass of Earth. Mega-Earths are substantially more massive than super-Earths (terrestrial and ocean planets with masses around 5–10 Earths). The term "mega-Earth" was coined in 2014, when Kepler-10c was revealed to be a Neptune-mass planet with a density considerably greater than that of Earth.[1][2] However, it has since been determined to be a typical volatile-rich planet.[3]


Kepler-10c was the first exoplanet to be classified as a Mega-Earth. At the time of its discovery, it was believed to be around 17 M and 2.3 R, giving it a high density that implied a mainly rocky composition. However, several follow-up radial velocity studies produced different results for Kepler-10c's mass, all much below the original 17 M estimate. In 2017, a more careful analysis using data from multiple different telescopes and spectrographs found that Kepler-10c is more likely around 7.4 M, making it a typical volatile-rich Mini-Neptune and not a Mega-Earth.[4][3]

K2-56b, also designated BD+20594b, is a much more likely Mega-Earth[5], with about 16 M and 2.2 R. At the time of its discovery in 2016, it had the highest chance of being rocky for a planet its size, with a posterior probability that it is dense enough to be terrestrial at about 0.43. For comparison, at the time Kepler-10c had a Procky of 0.1, and Kepler-131b has a Procky of 0.002.[6]

Kepler-145b is the most massive planet classified as a Mega-Earth, with a mass of 37.1 M and a radius of 2.65 R, so large that it could belong to a sub-category of Mega-Earth known as Supermassive Terrestrial Planets (SMTP). It likely has an Earth-like composition of rock and iron without any volatiles. A similar Mega-Earth, K2-66b, is about 21.3 times the mass and 2.49 times the radius of Earth, and orbits a subgiant star. Its composition appears to be mainly rock with a small iron core and a relatively thin steam atmosphere.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sasselov, Dimitar (2 June 2014) Exoplanets: From Exhilarating to Exasperating, 22:59, Kepler-10c: The "Mega-Earth", YouTube
  2. ^ "Astronomers Find a New Type of Planet: The "Mega-Earth"2014-14".
  3. ^ a b The mass of Kepler-10c revisited: upping the radial velocities game, Leonardo dos Santos, Aug 7, 2017, astrobites
  4. ^ Pinning down the mass of Kepler-10c: the importance of sampling and model comparison, Vinesh Rajpaul, Lars A. Buchhave, Suzanne Aigrain, 19 Jul 2017
  5. ^ BD+20594B: A MEGA-EARTH DETECTED IN THE C4 FIELD OF THE KEPLER K2 MISSION., P. Futó, Lunar and Planetary Science XLVIII (2017)
  6. ^ Discovery and Validation of a High-Density sub-Neptune from the K2 Mission, Néstor Espinoza, Rafael Brahm, Andrés Jordán, James S. Jenkins, Felipe Rojas, Paula Jofré, Thomas Mädler, Markus Rabus, Julio Chanamé, Blake Pantoja, Maritza G. Soto, Katie M. Morzinski, Jared R. Males, Kimberly Ward-Duong, Laird M. Close, Submitted on 28 Jan 2016, last revised 14 Jul 2016
  7. ^ KEPLER-145B AND K2-66B: A KEPLER- AND A K2-MEGA-EARTH WITH DIFFERENT COMPOSITIONAL CHARACTERISTICS. P. Futó, 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2018