Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Astronomers: Super-Earth 40 light years away 'is rich in water'... -

Astronomers: Super-Earth 40 light years away 'is rich in water'... - 

Blue light observations of a super-Earth 40 light years from our planet suggest that it is a world with a thick, steamy water-rich atmosphere.
Japanese astronomers used the Subaru telescope to observe planetary transits of the super-Earth, which is located at the centre of the Milky Way.
Astronomers had previously confirmed that this alien world has a thick atmosphere, but were unable to determine whether the atmosphere was primarily hydrogen or a steamy soup of water vapour.
Their findings confirm that the super-Earth has an atmosphere rich in water rather than hydrogen.
Super-Earths are exoplanets orbiting a star outside of the solar system that are larger than Earth's but smaller than those of ice giants such as Uranus or Neptune.

Their planetary transits enable scientists to find changes in the wavelength in the brightness of the star, which indicate the planet's atmospheric composition.
If scientists can determine the major atmospheric component of a super-Earth, they can then find out the planet's birthplace and formation history.
The water world, named GJ 1214b is one of the more well-known super-Earths and was discovered by the ground-based MEarth Project in 2009.
This super-Earth is about 2.6 times Earth’s diameter and weighs almost seven times as much.


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