Space & Astronomy
Water discovered in exoplanet's atmosphere
September 24, 2014 | 13 comments
The discovery used Hubble’s wide field camera. Image Credit: NASA / JSC
Astronomers have found signs of water vapor on a planet located around 120 light years from Earth.
The Neptune-sized world known as HAT-P-11b can be found within the constellation of Cygnus and is believed to have an atmosphere comprised of mostly hydrogen along with 25% water vapor.
Like many extrasolar planets this distant world is located quite close to its parent star meaning that one year is the equivalent to five days on Earth. It is also much hotter than our own planet with surface temperatures averaging out at 600C.
Despite this however the planet represents a significant step forward in the search for habitable Earth-like worlds and in the use of spectroscopic techniques to locate signs of water.
"Although this planet is not classically habitable, it reveals to us that when we find Earth 2.0, we will be able to use this technique, transmission spectroscopy, to understand its atmosphere and determine the quality of life available on its shores," said graduate student Jonathan Fraine.
"Now we know that not all warm Neptunes form with high-altitude clouds, we can again explore the diversity of planet formation and gain greater context for our own creation."
Source: The Guardian
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