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Super-earth Gliese 1214 b likely to have a water-rich atmosphere

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 14:00

Washington: A research team from Japan has used the Subaru Telescope to observe the water-rich atmosphere of a super-earth, 40 light-years from our planet.

The astronomers and planetary scientists has used Subaru Telescope`s two optical cameras, Suprime-Cam and the Faint Object Camera and Spectrograph (FOCAS), with a blue transmission filter to observe planetary transits of super-Earth GJ 1214 b (Gliese 1214 b).

The team investigated whether this planet has an atmosphere rich in water or hydrogen.

The Subaru observations show that the sky of this planet does not show a strong Rayleigh scattering feature, which a cloudless hydrogen-dominated atmosphere would predict.

When combined with the findings of previous observations in other colors, this new observational result implies that GJ 1214 b is likely to have a water-rich atmosphere.

GJ 1214 b is located in the constellation Ophiuchus, northwest of the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

This planet is one of the well-known super-Earths discovered by Charbonneau, (2009) in the MEarth Project, which focuses on finding habitable planets around nearby small stars.


Photo Credit: NAOJ

First Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 14:00

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