Release Images

Release No.: 2010-27
For Release: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 8:00am

Super-Earth Has an Atmosphere, But Is It Steamy or Gassy?

The extrasolar planet GJ 1214b, shown here in an artist's conception with two hypothetical moons, orbits a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth. GJ 1214b has a radius of about 2.7 times that of the Earth and is about 6.5 times as massive, putting it squarely into the class of exoplanets known as super-Earths. Astronomers have confirmed that this alien world has a thick atmosphere, but can't yet determine whether the atmosphere is primarily
hydrogen or a steamy soup of water vapor.

David A. Aguilar (CfA)