Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur,
The era of Super-Earths has formally begun with the detection of transiting low-mass exoplanets CoRoT-7b and GJ 1214b. In the path of characterising super-Earths, the ﬁrst step is to infer their composition. While the discovery data for CoRoT-7b, in combination with the high atmospheric mass loss rate inferred from the high insolation, suggested that it was a rocky planet, the new proposed mass values have widened the possibilities. The combined mass range 1−10 M⊕ allows for a volatile-rich (and requires it if the mass is less than 4 M⊕ ), an Earth-like or a super-Mercury-like composition. In contrast, the radius of GJ 1214b is too large to admit a solid composition, thus it necessarily to have a substantial gas layer. Some evidence suggests that within this gas layer H/He is a small but non-negligible component. These two planets are the ﬁrst of many transiting low-mass exoplanets expected to be detected and they exemplify the limitations faced when inferring composition, which come from the degenerate character of the problem and the large error bars in the data.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2011