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Spitzer Detects Shadow of 'Super-Earth' in Front of Nearby Star
www.sciencedaily.com ^ | May 5, 2011 | Staff

Posted on 05/06/2011 7:21:02 AM PDT by Red Badger

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected the crossing of a solid planet in front of a star located at only 42 light-years in the constellation Cancer. Thanks to this detection, astronomers know that this "super-Earth" measures 2.1 times the size of our Earth. This is the smallest exoplanet detected in the neighborhood of our Sun.

The discovery is based on data acquired by the Spitzer spacecraft last January. The data allowed astronomers to detect the "transit" of the planet, i.e. the tiny decrease of the star's brightness occurring when the planet passes in front of it.

"So far, the exquisite capabilities of Spitzer have been extensively used to study known transiting exoplanets, all of them being giant planets similar to Jupiter or Neptune. For the first time, Spitzer is used to detect the transit of a super-Earth, a solid planet not much larger than our own Earth," says Michaël Gillon from University of Liège (Belgium), the leader of the team that made this detection. "Thanks to the high-precision of Spitzer, we now know the nature of this planet, and, interestingly, it is very different from all the planets of our solar System."

The planet name is 55 Cancri e. With 8 times the mass of the Earth, for a size 2.1 larger, it is simply too big to be purely rocky, meaning that it must have a significant fraction of ice, the favored composition being a massive shell of water ice on top of a rocky nucleus. "We could call this planet a 'naked Neptune', as it is very similar to Neptune except that it has no gazeous envelope of hydrogen above its ice shell," says Brice-Olivier Demory from the Massachusets Institute of Technology (MIT), the first author of the paper describing the discovery.

(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedaily.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Technical
KEYWORDS: 55cancri; 55cancrie; astronomy; cosmology; goldilocks; goldilocksplanet; goldilockszone; space; spitzer; xplanets
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1 posted on 05/06/2011 7:21:10 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

That’s an astounding feat.


2 posted on 05/06/2011 7:24:17 AM PDT by wendy1946
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To: Red Badger

"I HEREBY DUB THEE ... PLANET PIMP!"

3 posted on 05/06/2011 7:26:02 AM PDT by martin_fierro (low-hanging fruit)
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To: Red Badger
Why in the world do they call it a super-earth? It is too large for use by humans, the gravity would be too high. It has too little water and is too far from the sun and is too cold. It has no relationship to Earth at all. Calling it a naked Neptune is reasonable.

They want so badly to find an earth normal planet that they are going to build expectations constantly by using the word, Earth.

4 posted on 05/06/2011 7:27:42 AM PDT by wbarmy (I chose to be a sheepdog once I saw what happens to the sheep.)
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To: Red Badger

We are not alone! Boo!


5 posted on 05/06/2011 7:29:33 AM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: Red Badger

I thought you meant Eliott Spritzer (or whatever)


6 posted on 05/06/2011 7:32:52 AM PDT by laweeks
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To: wbarmy
They want so badly to find an earth normal planet that they are going to build expectations constantly by using the word, Earth.

They have no other word to describe a large rocky planet............

7 posted on 05/06/2011 7:36:20 AM PDT by Red Badger (Mitt Romney: The Harold Stassen of the 21st century........)
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To: laweeks

LOL....I thought this was info on Client #9


8 posted on 05/06/2011 7:37:10 AM PDT by Carley (We will not tire. We will not falter. We will not fail. W, 9/20/01)
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To: Don Corleone
We are not alone!

We were not alone 42 yrs ago.
9 posted on 05/06/2011 7:38:54 AM PDT by sasquatch
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To: SunkenCiv

Ping.


10 posted on 05/06/2011 7:40:53 AM PDT by allmost
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To: martin_fierro

Haha!


11 posted on 05/06/2011 7:41:31 AM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: Don Corleone

¨Where are they?¨ —Enrico Fermi


12 posted on 05/06/2011 7:43:09 AM PDT by onedoug (If)
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To: laweeks
I thought you meant Eliott Spritzer (or whatever)

He discovers black holes................

13 posted on 05/06/2011 7:43:19 AM PDT by Red Badger (Mitt Romney: The Harold Stassen of the 21st century........)
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To: Red Badger

How about “rocky”? :)

Another word they could use is “terrestrial”.
I agree with Gabby Johnson - they’re trying to make extra-solar earths more of a possibility than they are.


14 posted on 05/06/2011 7:45:22 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: wbarmy

>>Why in the world do they call it a super-earth?<<

Simple. From Earth comes man. from Super Earth comes Superman.

It’s actually Krypton and was not destroyed.

8 times the mass. Why do you think he’s so strong?


15 posted on 05/06/2011 7:48:14 AM PDT by RobRoy (The US today: Revelation 18:4)
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To: Red Badger

>>They have no other word to describe a large rocky planet............<<

How about “large rocky planet”?


16 posted on 05/06/2011 7:49:32 AM PDT by RobRoy (The US today: Revelation 18:4)
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To: MrB

>>I agree with Gabby Johnson - they’re trying to make extra-solar earths more of a possibility than they are.<<

Yep, I clicked on this thread because of “super earth” in the title. If they had said they merely found another large planet I would not have clicked on it.


17 posted on 05/06/2011 7:52:55 AM PDT by RobRoy (The US today: Revelation 18:4)
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To: MrB

The technology at this point may not be quite good enough to detect a ‘earth-sized’ planet within the Goldilocks Zone. This planet is the smallest they have found so far. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any smaller, it’s just that they cannot yet detect them. If you read the full article, another team, using a different system, analyzed this same planet and their indications are that it is even smaller than Spitzer’s team’s calculations.........


18 posted on 05/06/2011 7:54:38 AM PDT by Red Badger (Mitt Romney: The Harold Stassen of the 21st century........)
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To: RobRoy

That’s 3 words..............


19 posted on 05/06/2011 7:55:19 AM PDT by Red Badger (Mitt Romney: The Harold Stassen of the 21st century........)
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To: martin_fierro

Spitzer’s out there looking for black holes. That’s why he’s at CNN...............


20 posted on 05/06/2011 7:56:42 AM PDT by Red Badger (Mitt Romney: The Harold Stassen of the 21st century........)
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