May 13th, 2012 10:32 EST
NASA`s Spitzer Telescope Discovers 'Super Earth' Like Planet
NASA continues to research the chances that there really is other life out there outside of our own planet. NASA`s Spitzer Telescope has detected light coming from what is known as a "Super Earth" planet outside of our solar system. The "Super Earth" planet is known as 55 Cancri e which according to NASA falls into the category of the call of planets known as "Super Earths". The name is given to the types of planets because their overall mass is greater than Earths but is lighter than larger planets like Neptune. NASA states 55 Cancri e is not habitable but with the discovery of this new planet shed more light on the hypothesis that there really is other life forms out there.
Bill Danchi who is Spitzer`s space scientist said, "Spitzer has amazed us yet again. The spacecraft is pioneering the study of atmospheres of distant planets and paving the way for NASA`s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to apply a similar technique on potentially habitable planets." (Spitzer, NASA, 2012)
The new planet 55 Cancri e is about twice as big and about eight times as massive as Earth. The planet has its own star it orbits which only takes it about 18 hours to complete.
Spitzer and an array of other telescopes were able to study the new planet by analyzing how the light from 55 Cancri e changed as it passed in front of its star. Spitzer is now focusing a new study to see how much infrared light comes from 55 Cancri e and has found out that the atmosphere of the planet is dark on the sun facing side of the planet it is probably averaging about 3,140 degrees Fahrenheit which equates to be hot enough to turn the hardest steel into a sap of molten metal. Wouldn`t want to try to lie in the sun and get a tan on that side of the planet!
With the new evidence found through the updated study by NASA, the new information is consistent with the prior theory that 55 Cancri e, is a water world; the core of the planet is likely rocky and is surrounded by water in what is known as a supercritical state where both liquid and gas is topped off by a blanket of steam.
Michael Gillon of the UniversitÃ© de LiÃ¨ge in Belgium stated, "It could be very similar to Neptune, if you pulled Neptune in toward our sun and watched its atmosphere boil away." (Gillon, 2012)
The system that 55 Cancri e is in is known as the 55 Cancri system which consist of about total of five planet and is a whopping 41 light years away from Earth. NASA continues the Spitzer mission to find other planets that may hold the clue that there is life somewhere out there in this big solar system and beyond.
NASA`s Spitzer sees Light of Alien "Super Earth ", (www.nasa.com)