sciencehabit writes: Data gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that a planet tightly circling a star 40 light-years from Earth is a water world swaddled in a thick, steamy atmosphere. The new observations reveal that the atmosphere transmits light consistently across a broad range of wavelengths—which tips the balance strongly toward an atmosphere mostly composed of water vapor, the researchers say, because a hazy atmosphere would be more transparent to infrared light than to visible wavelengths. While our solar system contains rocky worlds such as Venus and Earth, gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn, and icy orbs such as Pluto—and other solar systems sport "lava worlds" and "hot Jupiters"—GJ1214b is the first planet discovered to be composed largely of water rather than rock.
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