"Water-World" Discovered Only 41 Light Years From Earth
June 8, 2012 12:38 PM
55 Cancri e (artist depiction)
"Superearth" is a bit toasty with a sun-facing temperature of 2,000 Kelvin (3,140 degrees Fahrenheit)
Affixed in an 18-hour tidally locked orbit, 55 Cancri e is a
bit like Earth
, although in many ways altogether alien.
I. An Extreme Superearth
is located in a system with at least 5 planets just 41 light years from Earth. The tidal-locking means that its orbit takes the same amount of time that it takes to rotate on its axis -- hence the same "side" of the planet is always facing the Sun. If Earth were tidally locked (which it is not), a particular side (say North and South America) would enjoy 24-hour days, while the opposite side (Asia) would be cloaked in perpetual darkness.
This raises some interesting possibilities for 55 Cancri e. Based on new infrared light data collected from
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope
, scientists have developed new insight into the alien world's climate. Cancri e's sun-facing side is a scorching 2,000 Kelvin (3,140 degrees Fahrenheit), with water existing in a super-critical state where it is found in localized, ever-shifting pockets of liquid and gas, topped with a thick blanket of steam. But the night side is likely cool and liquid.
The blazing heat from the 55 Cancri star means there is likely no atmosphere, since it would long ago have burned away. No atmosphere means that there would be no substantial heat transfer to the far reaches of the night side, making it almost as cold as the other side is hot. But betwixt the icy night side and the blistering supercritical day side, there could be a region in which water is almost at Earth-like temperatures, warmed by conductive currents from the day-side.
Such a region of the water-world could support life, in theory, or be colonizable, although NASA concludes that most of the planet's icy or blazing surface is generally "not habitable".
Scientists hypothesize that a rocky core may lie deep between the deep-water sea. Such a core could provide basic mineral resources to organisms or human colonists.
II. Planet to be Further Examined in 2018
While the Spitzer telescope has been on the planetary hunt since 2005, 55 Cancri e is its first "superearth" discovery. "Superearth" refers to a recently discovered class of planets that shares some similarities to our own. The planets are generally more massive than Earth, but lighter than lesser gas giants like Neptune. 55 Cancri e is about twice the radius of Earth and about eight times as massive.
Infrared readings provide valuable clues to the composition (and cllimate) of 55 Cancri e.
[Image Source: NASA]
The foreign world will be further probed by the
NASA James Webb Space Telescope
, which will launch in 2018. The James Webb Telescope will be equipped with more advanced spectral sensors capable of examining the exact chemical compositions of superearth planets like 55 Cancri e, probing them for fundamental life necessities like carbon. The James Webb Telescope was originally scheduled for a 2013 launch, and
narrowly avoided being scrapped in 2011
due to budgetary concerns.
Skeptics long argued that our solar system was unique and that other stars lacked planets. Such claims have been dashed by modern science, which have shown that many stars -- even those close to Earth have numerous planets, indicating our solar system is more of an observance of cosmic rules, rather than a fortuitous fluke. Likewise, while many argue that life does not exist on alien worlds, many researchers believe that science will soon prove otherwise.
"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
NASA Discovers Earth-Like Planet "Kepler-22b"
December 5, 2011, 8:29 PM
Cancellation of James Web Space Telescope Program Recommended
July 14, 2011, 12:36 PM
NASA Unveils Hubble's Successor
May 15, 2007, 10:18 AM
Extrasolar Planet's Missing Water Discovered
April 12, 2007, 11:16 AM
Space Telescope Sees Billions of Years Back in Time
March 22, 2006, 8:15 PM
PIQ ROBOTTM reveals its new artificial intelligence software
November 29, 2016, 12:59 AM
One more time - Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone Around the World
November 24, 2016, 4:00 AM
Google’s Smart Contact Lens Project gets halted for 2016
November 20, 2016, 7:00 AM
Cell Research Study shows African Americans have greater immune response to infection
November 10, 2016, 1:00 AM
UTHealth Clinical Trial Shows Progress Using Stem Cells to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury
November 8, 2016, 1:00 AM
Uber Partners with Circulation to Pilot Program Connecting Transportation and Digital Health Care
November 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
How Apple watch Series 2 differ from the S1
February 18, 2017, 5:37 AM
February 17, 2017, 6:01 AM
Samsung Notebook 9 vs Acer Aspire S 13
February 17, 2017, 7:23 AM
Seagate FireCuda – 2TB of Fast Gaming Solid State Hybrid Drive Storage
February 6, 2017, 8:24 AM
Comparison: NuVision vs Kindle Fire HD
February 18, 2017, 6:25 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Feb 23, 2017, 6:30 AM
Feb 21, 2017, 6:12 AM
Here is how startups are helping new parents in raising children
Feb 20, 2017, 6:45 AM
Around the World
Feb 18, 2017, 5:48 AM
News of Future
Feb 17, 2017, 6:30 AM
Amazon parachutes May Float Packages to Customers
Feb 16, 2017, 8:00 AM
Now you Can Watch Facebook on Your TV
Feb 15, 2017, 7:42 AM
Feb 14, 2017, 5:36 AM
Razer Blade Stealth – Little Kaby Lake Powerhouse
Feb 13, 2017, 7:50 AM
Android 7.0 Nougat 7.0 Update Bring Less Battery Life for Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge
Feb 12, 2017, 7:45 AM
Apple iPhone 8 – OLED Display & Wireless Charging
Feb 11, 2017, 8:09 AM
Feb 10, 2017, 6:15 AM
Feb 9, 2017, 6:00 AM
Eye catching news
Feb 8, 2017, 6:16 AM
Some World News
Feb 7, 2017, 6:15 AM
Feb 6, 2017, 10:11 AM
Feb 5, 2017, 7:27 AM
Notes and News
Feb 4, 2017, 5:53 AM
Feb 3, 2017, 5:30 AM
Feb 2, 2017, 7:00 AM
News Around The World.
Feb 1, 2017, 7:20 AM
Jan 31, 2017, 7:57 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information