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Worlds without end: Using the Hubble Space Telescopes astronomers have made the first chemical analysis of a SuperEarth’s atmosphere.
The planet, 55 Cancri e, is estimated to have a mass of eight Earths. Its atmosphere was found to have hydrogen, helium, and the molecule hydrogen cyanide. No water was detected.
Astronomers have used Hubble to detect the components of a number of exoplanets, but these have all been giant planets more like Jupiter. This is the first measurement of an exoplanet whose mass is small enough that it might be rocky, like Earth.