Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, this is getting my goddamn jollies off. Cover your eyes, close your mouth. There’s excite-fluids being flung. NASA has detected light from an alien “Super-Earth” for the first time. How, you ask? Hope you got a minute.
Light from an alien “super-Earth” twice the size of our own Earth has been detected by a NASA space telescope for the first time in what astronomers are calling a historic achievement.
NASA’s infrared Spitzer Space Telescope spotted light from the alien planet 55 Cancri e, which orbits a star 41 light-years from Earth. A year on the extrasolar planet lasts just 18 hours.
The planet 55 Cancri e was first discovered in 2004 and is not a habitable world. Instead, it is known as a super-Earth because of its size: The world is about twice the width of Earth and has about eight times the mass of Earth.
But until now, scientists have never managed to detect the infrared light from the super-Earth world.
“Spitzer has amazed us yet again,” said Spitzer program scientist Bill Danch of NASA headquarters in Washington in a statement today (May 8). “The spacecraft is pioneering the study of atmospheres of distant planets and paving the way for NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to apply a similar technique on potentially habitable planets.”
Spitzer first detected infrared light from an alien planet in 2005. But that world was “hot Jupiter,” a gas giant planet much larger than 55 Cancri e that orbited extremely close to its parent star. While other telescopes have performed similar feats since then, Spitzer’s view of the 55 Cancri e is the first time the light from a rocky super-Earth type planet has been seen, researchers said.
Pretty outstanding stuff.