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.

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