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Map of rocky exoplanet reveals a lava world

31 March 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers, led by the University of Cambridge, has obtained the most detailed ‘fingerprint’ of a rocky planet outside our solar system to date, and found a planet of two halves: one that is almost completely molten, and the other which is almost completely solid. Exoplanet 55 Cancri e lies 40 light-years from the Sun.

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First detection of a super-Earth exoplanet’s atmosphere

17 February 2016 Astronomy Now

For the first time astronomers were able to analyse the atmosphere of a super-Earth exoplanet. Using data gathered with the Hubble Space Telescope and new analysis techniques, the exoplanet 55 Cancri e some 40 light-years away is revealed to have an atmosphere consists mainly of hydrogen and helium without any indications of water vapour.

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First evidence of volcanic activity on a super-Earth?

5 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have detected wildly changing temperatures on a super-Earth — the first time any atmospheric variability has been observed on a rocky planet outside the Solar System — and believe it could be due to huge amounts of volcanic activity, further adding to the mystery of what had been nicknamed the ‘diamond planet.’

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Ground-based detection of super-Earth transit

1 December 2014 Astronomy Now

A team of astronomers has measured the passing of a super-Earth in front of a bright, nearby Sun-like star using a ground-based telescope for the first time. Exoplanet 55 Cancri e, some 40 light-years away, is about twice as big and eight times as massive as the Earth.