Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A first: Light seen from an alien world

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope was able to detect the light from55 Cancri e for the first time using its sensitive heat-seeking infrared vision.
Super Earths are more massive than Earth but lighter than gas giants like Neptune. As this artist's concept shows, in visible light, a planet is lost in the glare of its star. When viewed in infrared, the planet becomes brighter relative to its star. This is largely due to the fact that the planet's scorching heat blazes with infrared light. Even on our own bodies emanate more infrared light than visible due to our heat. This world is about twice the width of Earth and is super-dense, with about eight times the mass of Earth. 55 Cancri e orbits it`s star 55 Cancri a, a yellow dwarf star which is located 41 light years away in the constellation of Cancer.

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