This is such awesome stuff. It’s amazing how sensitive our landbased telescopes are.

Light Years

For the first time, light coming directly from a “super-Earth” planet outside our solar system has been detected.

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope spotted the light shining from 55 Cancri e, a massive, scorching hot planet located about 41 light years away.

Super-Earths are up to 10 times more massive than our Earth, but lighter than gas giants like Neptune, NASA says. They can be made of gas, rock or a combination of both. Some scientists believe super-Earths have a better chance of being habitable than planets closer to the size of Earth.

Super-Earth 55 Cancri was discovered in 2004. Spitzer and other telescopes already have recorded how light from the planet changed as it passed in front of its star. In the new study, Spitzer measured how much infrared light comes from the planet itself.

The new data indicates the planet is probably dark, and that its sun-facing side…

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