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September 30 2013

Super-earth or mini-Neptune? Telling habitable worlds apart from lifeless gas giants


Perhaps the most intriguing exoplanets found so far are those bigger than our rocky, oceanic Earth but smaller than cold, gas-shrouded Uranus and Neptune. This mysterious class of in-between planets—alternatively dubbed super-Earths or mini-Neptunes—confounds scientists because nothing like them exists as a basis for comparison in our solar system.

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