Atmosphere Found Around Earth-like Planet GJ 1132b

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An artist's impression of an exoplanet with an atmosphere
Atmosphere found around Earth-like planet GJ 1132b.

Astronomers from Keele University, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, and others, have discovered the first atmosphere around an Earth-sized planet. The planet, GJ1132b is about 1.4x Earth's diameter and 39 light years away from us. Currently there are over 3000 known planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, but only a handful of which have been confirmed to have atmospheres, and all of which are massive Jupiter-sized planets. In the ongoing quest to find a planet similar to Earth, this team of scientists have confirmed for the first time an Earth-sized exoplanet that has an atmosphere. They even measured that it has a composition of 'water, methane, or mixture of both.' Don't get your hopes up though, the temperature there is over 300 degrees Celsius. This discovery, coupled with that of 7 Earth-sized planets around the star TRAPPIST-1 in February 2017, hint at the possibility of planets similar to Earth are common in the Galaxy.

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Atmosphere Found Around Earth-like Planet GJ 1132b
Rebecca Morelle
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

As a passionate science communicator, Jesse Rogerson loves promoting science literacy to the public. He frequently represents the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on television and radio, social media, and at conferences. He co-developed a science communication workshop for Canadian science professionals, to instruct them in more effective methods of communicating their science. A trained and practicing astrophysicist, Jesse holds a PhD in observational astrophysics from York University, and recently published a peer-reviewed paper in The Astrophysical Journal. Jesse enjoys riding his motorcycle, board games, and ultimate frisbee.