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Scientists say that the rocky planet, which is twice the size of Earth, has a dense atmosphere

Scientists say that the rocky planet, which is twice the size of Earth, has a dense atmosphere

A thick atmosphere has been discovered around a planet twice the size of Earth in a nearby solar system, researchers reported Wednesday.

The so-called super-Earth – known as 55 Cancri e – is one of the few rocky planets outside our solar system with a significant atmosphere, coated in a layer of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

The exact quantities of these compounds are unknown. Earth’s atmosphere consists of a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and other gases.

“This is probably the strongest evidence yet that this planet has an atmosphere,” said Ian Crosfield, an astronomer at the University of Kansas who studies exoplanets and was not involved in the study.

The research was published in the journal Nature.

The term “super-Earth” refers to the size of a planet larger than Earth, but smaller than Neptune.

The planet’s high temperatures, which can reach 2,300 degrees Celsius (4,200 degrees Fahrenheit), indicate that life is unlikely.

Instead, scientists say the discovery is a promising sign that other rocky planets could exist with thicker atmospheres that might be more habitable.

This exoplanet is located 41 light-years away, is eight times heavier than Earth and orbits its star Copernicus so closely that it has permanent day and night sides. One light-year is equivalent to about 9.7 billion kilometers (6 billion miles). Its surface is covered with magma oceans.

To learn about the composition of the planet’s atmosphere, researchers studied observations from the Webb Space Telescope before and after the planet passed behind its star.

They separated the light emitted by the planet, compared it to its star, and used the data to calculate its temperature.

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There is evidence that the planet’s heat is distributed evenly across its surface, a property known as its atmosphere.

Gases released from magma oceans can play a key role in maintaining the stability of their atmosphere.

Exploring this giant Earth could also provide clues about how Earth and Mars evolved with magma oceans that have since cooled, the researchers said.

“It’s a rare opportunity,” said Renyu Hu, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who participated in the research. “We can look at this early stage of planetary evolution.”