Editor's Summary

17 December 2009

A super-Earth with atmosphere

'Super-Earths' are extrasolar planets about two to ten times the mass of the Earth, too small to be considered 'Jupiters'. Observations from the MEarth Project — using two 40-cm (16-inch) telescopes that will eventually be part of an eight-telescope array — have now identified a super-Earth (GJ 1214b) transiting a nearby low mass star. GJ 1214b has a mass 6.55 times that of the Earth and a radius of 2.68 'Earths'. As the star is small and only 13 parsecs away, the planetary atmosphere is available for direct study with current observatories.

News and ViewsExtrasolar planets: Water world larger than Earth

The hunt for Earth-like worlds has taken a major step forward with the discovery of a planet only 2.7 times larger than Earth. Its mass and size are just as theorists would expect for a water-rich super-Earth.

Geoffrey Marcy


LetterA super-Earth transiting a nearby low-mass star

David Charbonneau, Zachory K. Berta, Jonathan Irwin, Christopher J. Burke, Philip Nutzman, Lars A. Buchhave, Christophe Lovis, Xavier Bonfils, David W. Latham, Stéphane Udry, Ruth A. Murray-Clay, Matthew J. Holman, Emilio E. Falco, Joshua N. Winn, Didier Queloz, Francesco Pepe, Michel Mayor, Xavier Delfosse & Thierry Forveille