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 et.al, (2009) in the MEarth Project, which focuses on finding habitable planets around nearby small stars.
Photo Credit: NAOJ