Super-Earth exoplanet Gliese 1214b passing in front of its faint red parent star. This is the first super-Earth exoplanet to have had its atmosphere analysed. Artist’s impression of GJ 1214b in transit. Image © ESO/L. Calçada
The exoplanet, orbiting a small star only 40 light-years away from us, has a mass about six times that of the Earth.
GJ 1214b appears to be surrounded by an atmosphere that is either dominated by steam or blanketed by thick clouds or hazes.
Recent observations from the Subaru telescope in Hawaii found very little scattering of blue light from the parent star by the planet. This appears most consistent with a planet that has a watery atmosphere.