In what is becoming a daily thing, NASA has announced the discovery of another super earth. This time the planet is called “55 Cancri e” and it is 41 light years away from our regular earth. The fact that we found another planet isn’t really news because of the recent announcement that there are probably around 100 of these planets at distances of less than 30 light-years.
The big news here is that 55 Cancri e is the first planet where we have been able to see light coming from it. We have detected other planets, but they were all the size of Jupiter.
The discovery was made by the Spitzer Space Telescope who used it’s infrared sensors to detect the light radiating from 55 Cancri e. “When we conceived of Spitzer more than 40 years ago, exoplanets hadn’t even been discovered,” said Michael Werner, Spitzer project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the NASA press release. “Because Spitzer was built very well, it’s been able to adapt to this new field and make historic advances such as this.”
The planet is roughly 2 times the size of our earth and it orbits 55 Cancri a, the name of the star, in about 18 days. It does this because it is the same distance away from the star as Mercury is from our own sun. The planet is tidally locked, meaning that one side always faces the sun, and it is incredibly hot on the surface, about 3100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is unfortunate news for us because it means we have to find another world to colonize.