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Discovery of Super-Earth Planet Image 2
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Discovery of Super-Earth Planet (Image 2)

May 10, 2012
Artist's conception of the super-Earth discovered orbiting GJ1214, a dim, red dwarf star located 40 light-years away. GJ1214b was found by the MEarth project, which uses off-the-shelf amateur technology to spot transiting exoplanets. GJ1214b is about 2.7 times the size of the Earth and weighs 6.5 times as much. Models suggest it is made of about three-fourths water and one-fourth rock. Observations suggest that it also has a substantial hydrogen/helium atmosphere. The MEarth (pronounced "mirth") Project is an array of eight identical 16 inch-diameter RC Optical Systems telescopes that monitor a preselected list of 2,000 red dwarf stars. Each telescope perches on a highly accurate Software Bisque Paramount and funnels light to an Apogee U42 charged-coupled device chip, that many amateurs also use. Credit: David Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA