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Scientists have discovered water vapor and possibly even liquid water in the atmosphere of a strange exoplanet. The exoplanet lies in the habitable zone of its host star about 110 light-years from Earth.
As indicated space.com “a new study focuses on K2-18 b, an exoplanet discovered in 2015, orbits a red dwarf star close enough to receive about the same amount of radiation from its star as Earth does from our sun”.
This new study has suggested that the exoplanet hosts clouds that rain liquid water.
“The water vapor detection was quite clear to us relatively early on,” lead author Björn Benneke, a professor at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal, told Space.com in an interview. So he and his colleagues developed new analysis techniques to provide evidence that clouds made up of liquid water droplets likely exist on K2-18 b. “That’s in some ways the ‘holy grail’ of studying extrasolar planets … evidence of liquid water,” he said.
The study was published on Tuesday (September 10) in the preprint journal arXiv.org. On Wednesday on September 11, a second study by a separate research team also announced the discovery of water vapor in K2-18 b’s atmosphere. That study is detailed in the journal Nature Astronomy.
So, while Benneke does not rule out the possibility that this exoplanet could, in theory, support some sort of life, there is “certainly not some animal crawling around on this planet,” Benneke said. This is especially true, given the fact that “there is nothing to crawl on,” because the planet doesn’t really have a surface, he added.
Source: Text; Space.com
Image credit; Space.com
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