"It could be very similar to Neptune, if you pulled Neptune in toward our sun and watched its atmosphere boil away," said the study's principal investigator Michaël Gillon of Université de Liège in Belgium. The lead author is Brice-Olivier Demory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
The research is detailed in the Astrophysical Journal.
ANALYSIS: Billions of Habitable Worlds in Our Galaxy?
NASA's $770 million Spitzer Space Telescope launched in 2003 and is currently in an extended mission to study the universe in infrared light. During that extended mission, telescope engineers modified several settings on the observatory to optimize its alien planet vision, NASA officials said.
The space agency's next major infrared space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope slated to launch in 2018, could potentially reveal even more details about 55 Cancri e and other similar super-Earth planets.
"When we conceived of Spitzer more than 40 years ago, exoplanets hadn't even been discovered," said Michael Werner, Spitzer project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Because Spitzer was built very well, it's been able to adapt to this new field and make historic advances such as this."