NASA Says New 'Super-Earth' Has Super Hot 4000 Degree Days

  • Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Mar, 31, 2016, 07:49 AM
Tags : science, space
(Photo : Getty Images/AFP/Stringer) A year lasts just 18 days on this exoplanet.

Scientists have been aware that the "super-Earth" exoplanet, 55 Cancri e, is warmer than the norm - but they now have a much better idea of just how hot it gets on the planet.

According to NASA, its Spitzer Space Telescope has created a temperature map of the exoplanet -- located just 40 light years from Earth -- providing the first graphed illustration of heat data to be gathered for an exoplanet such as this one, writes CNN.

"The latest findings tell us the planet has hot nights and significantly hotter days," Brice Olivier Demory, an astrophysicist at the University of Cambridge, said in a press release.

An exoplanet refers to a planet outside of Earth's solar system. In this case, the exoplanet is positioned so close to its host star that it completes an orbit around the star once every 18 hours. The day side of the planet is always facing its host star.

According to Spitzer's map - the temperature on the day side of the planet is about 4,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The night side of the planet is over 2,000 degrees cooler - sitting at 2,060 degrees Fahrenheit.

"This indicates the planet inefficiently transports heat around the planet," Demory said in a NASA release. "We propose this could be explained by an atmosphere that would exist only on the day side of the planet, or by lava flows at the planet surface."

According to NASA, the data indicates that there is very little atmosphere on the planet. Lava flowing on the night side of the planet could be susceptible to hardening without carrying heat, the space agency added.

The graphical data was gathered using new calibration methods that enhanced the ability of Spitzer to measure changes in the exoplanets' brightness.

Super-Earths measure up to 10 times larger than Earth - but are generally much lighter than gas giants, according to NASA. They are generally comprised of gas, rock - or a combination of the two elements. Some scientists suggest that super-Earths are likely to be more habitable than other planets nearer to Earth's size.

The exoplanet 55 Cancri e, was first discovered in 2004, and has eight times the mass of Earth and measures twice its size.

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