Astronomers have found compelling evidence for the existence of ‘liquid’ water on an exoplanet.
Astronomers have found convincing evidence of “liquid” water on a super-Earth exoplanet, according to space telescopes. K2-18B is eight times the mass of Earth and orbits a red dwarf star 111 light-years from our solar system. It was discovered in 2015 by the Kepler space telescope, which orbits the sun at its closest point in the “habitable zone.”
Astronomers from University College London analyzed data recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016 and 2017 and concluded that K2-18B’s atmosphere may contain liquid water. The study, published in Nature Astronomy, explains that this is the first atmospheric detection of water vapor on a planet that orbits its star within the habitable zone. Since the exoplanet is in the habitable zone, the temperature levels would allow water to exist in a liquid state. The researchers compiled and analyzed the Hubble data using homegrown open source algorithms. The analysis uncovered the molecular signature of water vapor in the exoplanet’s atmosphere, as well as other gases such as helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, and methane.
In another study, a team of researchers working with Björn Benneker of the University of Montreal recorded data between 2015 and 2018. The data was recorded as K2-18b passed its star along its orbit, which happens periodically after 33 days, according to National Geographic.
Their research, published on arXiv, found compelling evidence for water vapor on Earth. Dr. Angelos Tsiaras, author of the research paper published in Nature Astronomy, explained that while it is exciting to find water on another planet, it may not be the best replacement for Earth due to its size and atmosphere.
As we try to convince people that climate change is real, it is wreaking havoc in the atmosphere and causing irreparable damage. Leaving Earth to inhabit another planet is a prospect that may one day be possible, but first we must find a suitable replacement and develop a way to get there.