Hubble Space Telescope discovers thick clouds on nearby exoplanets

Jan 2, 2014

Scientists have been using the NASA Hubble Space Telescope to examine two nearby exoplanets. The two teams of scientists have announced that they have discovered thick layers of clouds in the atmosphere of the exoplanets. The exoplanets are described as a "warm Neptune" and a super-Earth.

The pair of planets are the closest to Earth that have been discovered so far. The planet called a "warm Neptune" is officially named GJ 436b and is 36 light years from Earth. It resides in the constellation Leo. The planet is a bit larger than Neptune.

The planet is much hotter than Neptune with temperatures of 500C or more. The super-Earth planet is GJ 1214b and has a radius 2.7 times that of Earth. It is 40 light years away and resides in the constellation Ophiuchus.

A super-Earth planet has a mass between that of Earth and Neptune. The scientists studying both planets have noted that they have no chemical fingerprints. The researchers believe the lack of chemical fingerprints indicates heavy cloud cover on the planets blocking the detection of chemicals.


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