First Super-Earth Atmosphere Observed

Artist’s impression of GJ 1214b

With the recent milestone of the discovery of the 500th extra solar planet the future of planetary astronomy is promising. As the number of known planets increases so does our knowledge. With the addition of observations of atmospheres of transiting planets, astronomers are gaining a fuller picture of how planets form and live.

Thus far, the observations of atmospheres have been limited to the “Hot-Jupiter” type of planets which often puff up, extending their atmospheres and making them easier to observe. However, a recent set of observations, to be published in the December 2nd issue of Nature, have pushed the lower limit and extended observations of exoplanetary atmospheres to a super-Earth.

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