Two teams of scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered thick cloud layers in the atmospheres of two nearby exoplanets: a “warm Neptune” and a super-Earth. The study could help to identify potentially habitable Earth-like planets.
The two planets are among the closest to our solar system found so far, Sciencerecorder.com reported.
The “warm Neptune”, classified as GJ 436b, is 36 light years from Earth in the constellation Leo. A bit larger than our own Neptune, it orbits much closer to its host star. And unlike the icy temperatures on the solar system’s Neptune, GJ 436b’s surface temperature is blazing hot – more than 500 degrees Celsius.
The super-Earth, named GJ 1214b, has a radius 2.7 times that of Earth and is around 40 light years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Super-Earths are planets with masses between that of Earth and Neptune. Because such planets aren’t found in our solar system, their physical characteristics are still largely a mystery.