Interior of a mini-Neptune "super-Earth" (Image: H. Lammer)
Comparative sizes of Earth and a "super-Earth" (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC))
Neptune (Image: NASA)
Interior of Neptune (Image: NASA)
Comparative sizes of Earth and Neptune (Image: NASA)
Artist's impression of the CHEOPS probe (Image: ESA)
In the past couple of decades, nearly 900 planets have been identified outside of our Solar System with thousands more candidates to be considered. Among the most exciting of these exoplanets are the so-called “super-Earths” – planets somewhat larger than the Earth, yet some of which might be capable of supporting life. Unfortunately, a team led by Helmut Lammer at the Space Research Institute (IWF) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences has produced new models that indicate some of these super-Earths may really be mini-Neptunes, with deep, hydrogen-rich envelopes covering a small rocky core.
Other Images from this Gallery