The search for a distant planet that might be sufficiently similar to Earth that life may have arisen there is an ongoing quest for astronomers and so-called astrobiologists. Now, a super-earth, orbiting a distant star has been discovered to have a low-density, dry atmosphere containing carbon. Earlier work revealed hydrogen and helium, but no water vapor in the atmosphere of the exoplanet, 55 Cancri e. This "diamond" planet is thought to have a mass more than eight times that of Earth and a carbon-rich, core, hence its nickname. New processing of data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope by scientists in Europe led by University College London reveals unprecedented details about its chemistry in the Astrophysical Journal.
A second home?