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  • Waterworld

    Water found on 'mind-blowing' planet

    Astronomers have discovered water in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting within the habitable zone of a distant star.

    The finding makes the world - which is called K2-18b - a plausible candidate in the search for alien life.

    Within 10 years, new space telescopes might be able to determine whether K2-18b's atmosphere contains gases that could be produced by living organisms.

    Details are have been published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

    The lead scientist, Prof Giovanna Tinetti of University College London (UCL) described the discovery as "mind blowing".

    "This is the first time that we have detected water on a planet in the habitable zone around a star where the temperature is potentially compatible with the presence of life," she said.

    The team looked through the planets discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2016 and 2017. The researchers determined some of the chemicals in their atmosphere by studying the changes to the starlight as the planets orbited their suns. The light filtered through the planets' atmospheres was subtly altered by the composition of the atmosphere.

    Only K2-18b revealed the molecular signature of water, which is a vital ingredient for life on Earth. Computer modelling of the data suggested that up to 50% of its atmosphere could be water.

    The new planet is just over twice the size of Earth and has a temperature cool enough to have liquid water, between zero and 40C.

    Dr Angelos Tsiaras, a member of the UCL team, said that finding water in the atmosphere of a potentially habitable exoplanet was "incredibly exciting".

    He said: "It brings us closer to answering the fundamental question: Is the Earth unique?"

    K2-18b may be able to support life. But we have no way to tell at the moment.

    (snipsnap)
    full article: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49648746

    Space Water Life
    Blah

  • #2
    It’s only a matter of time now ... until humans are able to travel to and pollute yet another blue sphere.
    "tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner"

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    • #3
      https://youtu.be/TcJ-wNmazHQ
      I drank beer. I like beer. I still like beer. ... Do you like beer Senator?
      - Justice Brett Kavanaugh

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      • #4
        This is a very cool discovery, showing that water is quite common in the galaxy, but the planet is almost certainly not habitable as we understand the term. It's much closer to a Neptune than an Earth, with a very large atmosphere. The conditions on the surface (if there is one) would be extreme--a temperature of 3000 K, a surface pressure 10,000 times greater than on Earth.
        Click here if you're having trouble sleeping.
        "We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones." - François de La Rochefoucauld

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        • #5
          Have they detected an amphibious Kevin Costner living there yet?
          I am not delusional! Now if you'll excuse me, i'm gonna go dance with the purple wombat who's playing show-tunes in my coffee cup!
          Rules are like Egg's. They're fun when thrown out the window!
          Difference is irrelevant when dosage is higher than recommended!

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