Astronomers first spot water on a potentially habitable planet
A Potentially Habitable Super Earth Has Been Discovered
Found the first planet outside the solar system, which has not only water, but also the necessary temperature conditions to support life.
K2-18 orbits a cool dwarf star 110 light years away in the constellation Leo. It is eight times heavier than Earth and has a different composition of the atmosphere. Given the high level of activity of the red dwarf, the conditions on it are likely more hostile., as it must be exposed to strong radiation.
Although this exoplanet will not be able to become a new home for humanity, the discovery brings us closer to answering the fundamental question about the uniqueness of the Earth..
In their work, a team of astronomers at University College London used archival data from 2016 and 2017 from the Hubble Space Telescope and developed open source algorithms to analyze the starlight that passed through the atmosphere of K2-18b. The results showed the presence of water vapor, hydrogen and helium. Researchers believe other molecules, including nitrogen and methane, may also be present in the atmosphere, but further research is needed to find them..
K2-18b was discovered in 2015 and is one of hundreds of super-earths – planets with masses between Earth and Neptune – found by the Kepler spacecraft. Scientists believe many of these super-Earths will be found over the next few decades, as they are the most abundant type of planet in our galaxy, and red dwarfs are the most common stars..
Recall that last year NASA announced that it will begin to look for signs of advanced forms of extraterrestrial life..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: ESA / Hubble, M. Kornmesser, video: YouTube / NASA Goddard