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Image caption Artist's impression of GJ 1132b: The planet's thick atmosphere may contain water or methane. Scientists say they have detected an atmosphere around an Earth-sized planet for the first time. They have studied a world known as GJ 1132b, which is 1.4-times the size of our planet and lies 39 light years away. Their observations suggest that the "super-Earth" is cloaked in a thick layer of gases that are either water or methane or a mixture of both. The study is published in the Astronomical Journal . Discovering an atmosphere, and characterising it, is an important step forward in the hunt for life beyond our Solar System. But it is highly unlikely that this world is habitable: it has a surface temperature of 370C. Full story

22 May


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