NASA Spitzer Space Telescope New Detail of 55 Cancri e

NASA Spitzer Space Telescope discovered that the exoplanet 55 Cancri e has a lower density, as previously reported. Astronomers first discovered 55 Cancri e in 2004, and continued investigation of the exoplanet has shown it to be a truly bizarre place. The world revolves around its sun-like star in the shortest time period of all known exoplanets just 17 hours and 40 minutes. The exoplanet orbits about 26 times closer to its star than Mercury, the most Sun-kissed planet in our solar system. Such proximity means that 55 Cancri e’s surface roasts at a minimum of 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit or 1,760 degrees Celsius. The new observations with Spitzer reveal 55 Cancri e to have a mass 7.8 times and a radius just over twice that of Earth. 

However, what makes this world so remarkable is the resulting low density derived from these measurements. The Spitzer results suggest that about a fifth of the planet’s mass must be made of light elements and compounds, including water. In the intense heat of 55 Cancri e’s terribly close sun, those light materials would exist in a “supercritical” state, between that of a liquid and a gas, and might sizzle out of the planet’s surface.

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