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Alien world has water-rich atmosphere


Posted on Friday, 6 September, 2013 | Comment icon 11 comments

Gliese 1214b's atmosphere is remarkably familiar. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Kornmesser
Japanese scientists have identified an extrasolar planet that could be a prime candidate for life.
The planet Gliese 1214b is approximately 40 light years away and is located in the Ophiuchus constellation. Larger than our own planet but smaller than a gas giant, this distant world is around 2.7 times the size of the Earth, placing it in the category of planets referred to as "super-Earths".

Scientists in Japan were eager to learn more about this classification of planet and set out to determine the atmospheric composition of Gliese 1214b so that they could compare it to that of our own planet. To do this they used the Subaru Telescope to look for Rayleigh scattering, observable patterns that form when light is scattered by particles smaller than the wavelength of the light they are traveling through.

What they found was that Gliese 1214b has a water-rich atmosphere and would appear blue like the Earth to anyone observing it. While this doesn't confirm that the planet would be capable of supporting life it does suggest the possibility that super-Earth worlds such as this could be habitable.

Source: CBS News | Comments (11)

Tags: Extrasolar Planet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by spacecowboy342 on 4 September, 2013, 21:27
What does this tell us about dark matter?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 4 September, 2013, 21:44
What does this tell us about dark matter? I'm not sure what it tells us about dark matter but it says a lot about dense matter... me. I had the wrong title to the post. I've fixed it now.
Comment icon #4 Posted by ancient astronaut on 6 September, 2013, 14:12
It's not like we can up and go see it.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Moon Gazer on 6 September, 2013, 14:25
Oh great, another planet for us to screw up if we ever make it there.
Comment icon #6 Posted by marcos anthony toledo on 6 September, 2013, 15:04
How are they sure that a watery super earth didn't exist in this solar system. I remember reading in Science 81 or 82 about such a world existing between Mars and Jupiter four million years ago four times the size of Earth.
Comment icon #7 Posted by moonshadow60 on 6 September, 2013, 16:14
Well, for some reason it gives me hope to know there is another planet out there that may sustain life after we are all gone. I hope we don't get the chance to use this planet all up and then move to another. This is where humankind deserves to end, right where we are now. Marcos; are you talking about Phaeton?
Comment icon #8 Posted by brlesq1 on 6 September, 2013, 17:12
I'd like to see it, though I never will. And if humans decide to colonize, I hope they take some lessons learned on the Mother Planet with them. All very optimistic, of course.
Comment icon #9 Posted by highdesert50 on 7 September, 2013, 8:24
It is interesting to speculate on the life that could exist on an Earth-like planet that having twice the gravity. I suppose the Hulk might even look like a wimp.
Comment icon #10 Posted by NIGHTRAVEN on 8 September, 2013, 19:41
Let's hope there's life on that planet. Inetlligent or not; it's still life.
Comment icon #11 Posted by tritchey24 on 10 September, 2013, 1:25
We'll never make it there. Even if you take the fastest made made object ever, which is Helios 2 Spacecraft it will still take a very very long time. If this Planet is 40 Light years from us, that means it's 234 Trillion miles away! Ok, so we hop in the fastest spacecraft ever, traveling 157,078 mph. Even traveling at that speed, it would take us 170,514 years to get there one way. 170 Thousand years!! Sorry guys, were not getting there anytime soon!


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