Sunday, January 15, 2012

Re-thinking an Alien World

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Jan. 13, 2012: Forty light years from Earth, a rocky world named "55 Cancri e" circles perilously close to a stellar inferno.  Completing one orbit in only 18 hours, the alien planet is 26 times closer to its parent star than Mercury is to the Sun. If Earth were in the same position, the soil beneath our feet would heat up to about 3200 F.  Researchers have long thought that 55 Cancri e must be a wasteland of parched rock.
Now they’re thinking again.  New observations by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that 55 Cancri e may be wetter and weirder than anyone imagined.
Re-thinking an Alien World (splash)
An artist's concept of Earth and 55 Cancri e positioned side by side for comparison. [video]



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