Greek lead astronomer finds water on exoplanet twice the size of Earth

Compounds absorb light at various wavelengths depending on their chemical makeup ans by studying the star's spectrum with algorithms scientists can analyse what's in the planet's atmosphere.

While the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere gives us an inkling of a possible life out in K2-18b, the exoplanet is not an ideal planet for us to live in because of its bigger mass.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Astronomy on Wednesday.

"Finding water in a potentially habitable world other than Earth is incredibly exciting", said Angelos Tsiaras of University College London, the study's lead author, in a statement.

Astronomers now believe they've detected liquid water in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting within the habitable zone of its parent star.

So far, K2-18b seems considerably more hospitable-and that's big.

Astronomers have discovered for the first time the presence of water in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting within the habitable zone of a distant star. Importantly, its density is similar to the density of Mars, which is three-times that of a typical gas giant.

K2-12b probably isn't habitable, at least not for humans.

A handout artist's impression released on September 11, 2019, by ESA/Hubble shows the K2-18b super-Earth, the only super-Earth exoplanet known to host both water and temperatures that could support life.

The researchers noted that given the high level of activity of its red dwarf star, K2-18b may be more hostile than Earth and is likely to be exposed to more radiation. Its star, a red dwarf, is considerably smaller and cooler than our sun, a yellow dwarf, and its atmosphere is also different than ours. As Tsiaras pointed out at the press conference, conditions on K2-18b are likely "more hostile" compared to Earth.

That's obviously a huge discrepancy. The lead scientist on the second study, Giovanna Tinetti, called these results "mind-blowing".

Future space missions are expected to detect hundreds more in the coming decades. Over 4,000 exoplanets have been detected but we don't know much about their composition and nature.

The new research, he said, is consistent with his own work.

"I think the result is wonderful", said Kreidberg. This planet is large and has a thick atmosphere, making it easier, but in principle planets the same size and temperature as Earth could be analyzed this way as well.

He added: "K2-18b is not "Earth 2.0" as it is significantly heavier and has a different atmospheric composition". "The planet is located in a system more than a hundred light-years away, meaning that whatever image we try to get is an image of the planet hundred years ago. But I don't think it's potentially habitable".

A little known planet that is about 110-light-years away from our solar system might be able to host life, a new study has found.

During the press conference, Ingo Waldmann discussed how the presence of primordial gases on K2-18b could impact the planet's ability to foster life. Their calculations suggest that it could rain in the mid-atmosphere of this world.

Nonetheless, Tsiaras said K2-18b could help determine, "is the Earth unique?"

Benneke and his colleagues throw in another option: liquid water in addition to water vapor.

Clearly, K2-18b presents a mixed bag in terms of its capacity to host life. Like Earth, it has a temperate climate, a rocky core, and water.

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