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Water vapor discovered on extrasolar planet


Posted on Wednesday, 11 September, 2019 | Comment icon 11 comments

Could there be life on K2-18b ? Image Credit: ESA / UCL
Water vapor has been identified on what is being hailed as the most habitable exoplanet found to date.
In an announcement earlier today, astronomers from University College London revealed the discovery of water vapor in the atmosphere of a 'super-Earth' planet 110 light years away.

Known simply as K2-18b, this distant world is twice the size of our own planet, has eight times the mass and orbits a red dwarf star with an orbital period of 33 days.

"This is the only planet outside the solar system that has the correct temperature to support water and has an atmosphere that has water in it, making this planet the best candidate for habitability that we know right now," said study lead author Angelos Tsiaras from University College London.
Despite the potential for habitability however, the planet is certainly no Earth 2.0.

Astronomers believe that K2-18b either has a dense rocky core and a thick atmosphere similar to Neptune or has a surface completely covered by a planet-wide ocean.

Determining which of these is true is likely going to require the services of the James Webb Space Telescope which won't be launching for another two years.

Until then, we can only speculate as to whether or not life might exist there.

Source: Wired.com | Comments (11)

Tags: Extrasolar, Planet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by acute on 11 September, 2019, 19:12
It's not water vapour, it's just a bit of condensation on the lens. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Stiff on 11 September, 2019, 19:15
It's still a loooooong way away though.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Piney on 11 September, 2019, 20:03
And if the atmosphere is pure water vapor, like all water planets found so far........ ......It would crush you like a North Yorkshire Reiver.   ........don't think for one second that I forgot about the "Birmingham Incident". 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Stiff on 11 September, 2019, 20:47
East Yorkshire actually 
Comment icon #6 Posted by joc on 11 September, 2019, 21:10
I know right!? Both research teams say that the studies make K2-18b an ideal target for follow-up missions, including NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s future ARIEL space telescope. Unlike Hubble, these telescopes will be able to see other atmospheric gases, such as methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide—and potentially even chemical markers for life. That is so awesome!
Comment icon #7 Posted by Piney on 11 September, 2019, 21:14
Northerner my left foot! Your probably a Scouser that moved there. They're the only blokes that would join @acute's Trod..... .......That and a Brummie lookin for freebies. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by Piney on 11 September, 2019, 21:21
Could be something there. If there are metals maybe even something complex.  Nothing with tech with that atmosphere though. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by acute on 11 September, 2019, 21:56
K2-18b?  It's not exactly a catchy name! We'll have to think of something better to call it, before we go there, trash the place, then leave.
Comment icon #10 Posted by joc on 12 September, 2019, 2:36
Nothing with tech...do you mean intelligent life with tech?  Do you think it possible that there is any life there?  With new technology instruments as mentioned in the article that can detect methane, etc. do you think they would be able to detect life if there was?  
Comment icon #11 Posted by Piney on 12 September, 2019, 2:44
You need just the right amount of oxygen for fire. The chemical reaction needed for technology. As for life there, you have methane, ammonia and CO2 which many lifeforms can use for respiration/energy production.  Now if they detect atmospheric changes that point to respiration, it might be a sign of life. As for the metals part, you need them for a functioning circulatory system in higher life forms. Copper, Iron. Zinc, etc.  You also need them for tech and not every planetary system has them. 


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