Astronomers Observing Massive Super-Earth Alien Planet Using Ground Telescope

Artists's rendition of a super-earth
Scientists using a ground based telescope are able to study a super-earth for the first time in history. |

For the first time in history, astronomers were able to monitor a planet twice the size of Earth using a ground-based telescope, UPI reported.

The remarkable achievement was made by researchers stationed at the Nordic Optical Telescope, which is located in Spain's Canary Islands.

According to a study authored by members of the research team, the giant alien planet, dubbed as 55 Cancri e, has a diameter of 16,000 miles. Its size makes it eight times heavier than Earth, Value Walk has learned.

The researchers noted that 55 Cancri e, described by other scientists as super-earth due to its size, is located 40 light years away from our planet and is orbiting the star 55 Cancri.

Members of the research team implied in the study that the super-earth is uninhabitable since its daytime temperature can reach up to 3,100 degrees Fahrenheit.

55 Cancri e was first discovered in 2004 using telescopes mounted on space-based facilities. Scientists previously couldn't use Earth's telescopes due to visual limitations caused by the atmosphere.

According to Ray Jayawardhana, a member of the research team from Canada's York University, they were able to view the planet from Earth using the 2.5 meter telescope of the Nordic facility.

"It's remarkable what we can do by pushing the limits of existing telescopes and instruments, despite the complications posed by the Earth's own turbulent atmosphere," he said in a statement.

"Remote sensing across tens of light-years isn't easy, but it can be done with the right technique and a bit of ingenuity," he added.

Mercedes Lopez-Morales from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the co-author of the study pointed out that the latest discovery implies that Earth-based technologies can soon be used to conduct further observations on other planets.

"We expect these surveys to find so many nearby, terrestrial worlds that space telescopes simply won't be able to follow up on all of them," she said. "Future ground-based instrumention will be key, and this study shows it can be done."