James Webb telescope detects 1-of-a-kind atmosphere around ‘Hell Planet’ in distant star system

Can a “Hell Planet” have an atmosphere? In a new paper published May 8 in the journal Nature, researchers using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may have finally cracked this decades-old exoplanetary mystery — and, in doing so, detected the best evidence of an atmosphere around a rocky world outside our solar system.

55 Cancri e is a fiery world. Classified as a rocky “super-Earth”, this exoplanet is twice the diameter of Earth, and orbits its star at a mere 4% of the distance between Mercury and the sun. Its surface is probably covered in a sea of molten magma, with ambient temperatures hot enough to melt iron. 

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