Menu
Share
Share this story
Close X
 
Switch to Desktop Site

Light from alien 'super-earth' seen for first time

NASA's Spitzer space telescope has detected a light source coming from a large earth-like planet.

Image

This artist's concept shows the super-Earth planet 55 Cancri e. It's a toasty world 41 light-years from Earth that rushes around its star every 18 hours.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

About these ads

Light from an alien "super-Earth" twice the size of our own Earth has been detected by a NASA space telescope for the first time in what astronomers are calling a historic achievement.

NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope spotted light from the alien planet 55 Cancri e, which orbits a star 41 light-years from Earth. A year on the extrasolar planet lasts just 18 hours.

The planet 55 Cancri e was first discovered in 2004 and is not a habitable world. Instead, it is known as a super-Earth because of its size: The world is about twice the width of Earth and is super-dense, with about eight times the mass of Earth.

IN PICTURES: Exoplanets

But until now, scientists have never managed to detect the infrared light from the super-Earth world.

"Spitzer has amazed us yet again," said Spitzer program scientist Bill Danch of NASA headquarters in Washington in a statement today (May 8). "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."

Next

Page 1 of 4


Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.

Loading...