55 Cancri e Shows Off Its Blanket of Air
This artist’s impression shows the super-Earth 55 Cancri e in front of its parent star. Using observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and new analytic software scientists were able to analyse the composition of its atmosphere. It was the first time this was possible for a super-Earth.
Well, this is kind of cool. Or, actually, it’s rather dry and hot. The 55 Cancri has a super-Earth planet orbiting around it with some unusual properties. Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to study its atmosphere as this distant world transited across the face of its star. That way, they could study the star’s light as it traveled through the planet’s atmosphere and then deduce something about the conditions on 55 Cancri e.
So, what’s the weather like there?
Turns out it’s dry. Really dry. As the international team of scientists found out, there’s not a trace of water vapor in the blanket of gases smothering this planet. And, since the planet is orbiting very close to its star, conditions are likely too hot to support things like oceans and rivers and lakes on this world. The surface temperature is around ...