55 Cancri E is a Super-Earth sized exoplanet, twice that of our own home, located in the constellation of Cancer. One side of the planet is permanently facing it’s Sun, the other in constant darkness.
Data first analyzed in 2016 from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope hinted to scientists studying the planet it may have flowing lava on it’s surface in the form of vast lakes, these would contribute to the planet's overall temperature, the cold side with an average of 2,400 to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the hot side with an average of 4,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Deeper analysis of the planet has now given scientists at Caltech reason to believe it has a rich atmosphere similar to our home planet, but much thicker.
The Spitzer Telescope made observations of 55 Cancri e between June 15 and July 15, 2013, using a camera specially designed for viewing infrared light, which is an indicator of heat. Scientists compared changes in brightness in the planet to a new energy flow model, developed by Renyu Hu, to conclude that an atmosphere with volatile materials would be the best explanation for the temperatures seen on the planet.
To date, NASA have discovered over 2000 candidates for Earth like Exoplanets with only about 150 or so confirmed as being in their star's habitable zone for life.
Artist's impression of 55 Cancri e orbiting its parent star. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The most detailed map of a small, rocky ‘super Earth’ to date reveals a planet almost completely covered by lava, with a molten ‘hot’ side and solid ‘cool’ side