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Space & Astronomy

Hubble detects water on five exoplanets

By T.K. Randall
December 5, 2013 · Comment icon 10 comments

The planets are around 1,000 light years away. Image Credit: NASA
The Hubble Space Telescope has picked up signs of water in the atmospheres of several distant worlds.
Two teams of planetary scientists made the discoveries while contributing to a census of exoplanet atmospheres. Signs of water were picked up in the atmospheres of five separate planets, each of which being 'hot Jupiters', worlds that orbit so close to their parent star that the surface temperature would be far too hot to support life.
"To actually detect the atmosphere of an exoplanet is extraordinarily difficult," said census leader L. Drake Deming. "But we were able to pull out a very clear signal, and it is water." The process of detection involves observing the planets when they move in front of their parent star and then analyzing the light spectrum through spectroscopy.

"This work really opens the door for comparing how much water is present in atmospheres on different kinds of exoplanets, for example hotter versus cooler ones," said NASA's Avi Mandell.

Source: Wired | Comments (10)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 11 years ago
NASA | Alien AtmospheresSince the early 1990's, astronomers have known that extrasolar planets, or "exoplanets," orbit stars light-years beyond our own solar system. Although most exoplanets are too distant to be directly imaged, detailed studies have been made of their size, composition, and even atmospheric makeup - but how? By observing periodic variations in the parent star's brightness and color, astronomers can indirectly determine an exoplanet's distance from its star, its size, and its mass. But to truly understand an exoplanet astronomers must study its atmosphere, and they do so by s... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by margiel 11 years ago
Too hot for life, but not so hot that the water has been boiled away?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Hazzard 11 years ago
Too hot for life, but not so hot that the water has been boiled away? They havent found liquid water (how could they?) ,... the H2O they detected is high up in the atmosphere of the planet.
Comment icon #4 Posted by FLOMBIE 11 years ago
They havent found liquid water (how could they?) ,... the H2O they detected is high up in the atmosphere of the planet. Shouldn't they better call it water vapor then? I know, H2O refers to this as well, but simply saying water always refers to the liquid state. It is misleading, if you ask me.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 11 years ago
Shouldn't they better call it water vapor then? I know, H2O refers to this as well, but simply saying water always refers to the liquid state. It is misleading, if you ask me. Why do people always blame the article as misleading when they have leaped to the wrong conclusion? The article states that water was found in the atmosphere, which means it MUST be in the form of vapour. Nothing misleading if you take the time to read what was actually said.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Lava_Lady 11 years ago
I'm always amazed when I read about findings like this... sometimes I can't even find my car keys while I'm driving and the Hubble telescope has found water in the atmosphere in distances I can't even comprehend! Amazing.
Comment icon #7 Posted by moonshadow60 11 years ago
I agree with Lava Lady. It's all so fascinating to me. Perhaps there is the possibility that someday when they are examining a planet someone will kind of wave into the camera to let us know they exist. At least, I would like to think so.
Comment icon #8 Posted by highdesert50 11 years ago
Remarkable how a telescope with flawed mirrors, multiple mission repairs, and continued mechanical degradation from long use, has made such amazing discoveries and brought renewed public interest in the space program. Let us hope there will be no delays nor funding loss for the upcoming replacement, James Webb telescope.
Comment icon #9 Posted by coolguy 11 years ago
Where there is water there is life
Comment icon #10 Posted by WelshRed 11 years ago
It's only a matter of time now. We are NOT alone.


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