Atmosphere, Not Lava Flows, for Exoplanet 55 Cancri e
The exoplanet 55 Cancri e is a cipher. Astronomers have gone back and forth on its nature — waterworld, diamond world, or volcanic hellscape? Part of the riddle has been whether the planet is bare rock or has an atmosphere — previous studies have shown ambiguous results. Now, new research from Isabel Angelo and Renyu Hu (both at JPL-Caltech) published in the November 16th Astrophysical Journal (full text here) seems to have settled the question: 55 Cancri e probably does have an atmosphere and a substantial one at that.