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"Super-Earth" exoplanet has hazy or steamy atmosphere
Posted: Thu, Dec 2, 2010, 6:38 AM ET (1138 GMT)
GJ 1214b exoplanet illustration (ESO) Astronomers performing the first study of the composition of the atmosphere of a "super-Earth" exoplanet believe that world's atmosphere is either hazy or mostly compromised of steam. Researchers analyzed the atmosphere of the planet GJ 1214b, about 6.5 times the mass of the Earth, by measuring light from its star as the planet transited across it and determining what wavelengths were absorbed by the atmosphere. The results, scientists, said, were consistent with two possibilities: the planet has an atmosphere of hydrogen with high clouds or haze, or one that consists of water in the form of steam. Followup observations at infrared wavelengths are required to differentiate between the two.
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