Astronomers spot lava-covered “Super Earth” that might somehow have an atmosphere

super earth

Exoplanets — that is, planets we know exist outside of our own Solar System — come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. Some are super frigid, while others are boiling hot, and a few fall somewhere in between. A newly-discovered world called "55 Cancri e" is not the kind of place you'd want to hang out, as it's covered in free-flowing lava on one side and a charred husk on the other, but it might actually be a lot more like Earth than you'd imagine.

Called a "Super Earth" because it's roughly twice the size of our planet, 55 Cancri e is mighty hot. It orbits its star so closely that it's tidally locked, meaning that the same side of the planet always faces its star. The result is a world with a lava-covered surface on one side and a hardened crust on the other, but observations made by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that the otherwise hostile planet may actually support an atmosphere a lot like Earth.

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Astronomers spot lava-covered “Super Earth” that might somehow have an atmosphere originally appeared on on Fri, 17 Nov 2017 at 22:04:31 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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