December 1, 2010
Alien 'Super-Earth' Atmosphere Revealed
Clara Moskowitz, Space.com
The first-ever analysis of the atmosphere of an alien planet classified as a so-called "super-Earth" has revealed a distant world that is likely covered with either water vapor or a thick haze, scientists announced today (Dec. 1).
The exoplanet GJ 1214b, which orbits a star 40 light-years from Earth, offers astronomers a unique chance to study its atmosphere because it passes directly in front of its parent star from Earth's line of sight. That means that once an orbit, the star's light is filtered as it passes through the planet's atmosphere on its way to Earth, taking with it an imprint from the chemicals there. [
TAGGED: planetary atmospheres, GJ 1214b, exoplanet