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First glimpse of exoplanet atmosphere from Earth

Two separate teams of scientists reported Wednesday the first-ever detection from Earth of the atmosphere of planets outside our solar system.

Barely 300 exoplanets -- some of which may have conditions similar to those that gave rise to life on Earth -- have been identified so far, though astronomers assume that far more are waiting to be discovered.

Up to now, virtually everything known about the atmosphere of exoplanets has come from data collected by the space-based Spitzer infrared telescope.

But Spitzer will soon run out of the cryogens needed to keep its instruments cool, severely limiting its capabilities.

One team spotted a massive planet many times the size of Earth named OGLE-TR-56b, a so-called "hot Jupiter."

Hot Jupiters are massive planets -- many times the size of Earth -- that orbit very close to their stars. Because they are so near, they are believed to be


Added: Jan-14-2009 Occurred On: Jan-14-2009
By: roadkillz
Other, Arts and Entertainment
Tags: astronomy, exoplanet, atmosphere
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