Water, temperature right for life at another star’s planet

In a tantalizing first, scientists have discovered water at a planet outside our solar system that has temperatures suitable for life. | @AP

12.9.2019

In a tantalizing first, scientists have discovered water at a planet outside our solar system that has temperatures suitable for life. | AP

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - In a tantalizing first, scientists have discovered water at a planet outside our solar system that has temperatures suitable for life.

Associated Press / 06:18 AM September 12, 2019 CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – In a tantalizing first, scientists have discovered water at a planet outside our solar system that has temperatures suitable for life. This artist’s rendering provided by University College London Centre for Space Exochemistry Data researchers shows Exoplanet K2-18b, foreground, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. On Wednesday, the scientists announced they discovered water on the planet outside our solar system that has temperatures suitable for life. (M. Kornmesser/ESA/Hubble via AP) Two research groups announced this week that they’ve found water vapor in the atmosphere of a planet 110 light-years away in the constellation Leo. This so-called Super Earth is just the right distance from its star to conceivably harbor life. ADVERTISEMENT It’s the only exoplanet known so far to have both water and temperatures needed for life, the University College London team reported in the journal Nature Astronomy on Wednesday. But lead author Angelos Tsiaras stressed, “This is definitely not a second Earth.” Its star and atmosphere are so different than ours, “Earth-like conditions are not possible,” Tsiaras told reporters. “The only question that we’re trying to ask here, and we’re pushing forward, is the question of habitability.” A Canadian-led team announced similar findings Tuesday. In a paper just submitted to the Astronomical Journal for publication, these scientists suggest it might even be raining there. “This represents the biggest step yet taken toward our ultimate goal of finding life on other planets, of proving that we are not alone,” the study’s lead astronomer, Bjorn Benneke of the University of Montreal, said in a statement. Discovered in 2015, the planet known as K2-18b is twice the size of Earth with eight times the mass. While it’s thought to be rocky, no one knows if water’s flowing on the surface. Its star, a red dwarf, is considerably smaller and cooler than our sun, a yellow dwarf, and its atmosphere is also different than ours. Nonetheless, Tsiaras said K2-18b could help determine, “Is the Earth unique?” The results are doubly exciting, Tsiaras noted, given this is not only the first Super Earth with water detected in its atmosphere but the planet also resides within the habitable zone of its star. The research teams used archived data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other spacecraft to analyze the planet’s atmosphere. Further observations are needed to determine whether the planet is indeed a true water world, using next-generation observatories like NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Ariel, both due to launch in the 2020s. Future telescopes on Earth and in space should help uncover more Super Earths orbiting red dwarf stars — believed to be the most common planets and stars in our Milky Way galaxy. Super Earths are defined as having a mass greater than Earth but less than gas giants like Uranus and Neptune; more than 1,260 have been confirmed to date. ADVERTISEMENT While water already has been identified in the atmospheres of hot gas giants circling other stars, the latest findings represent the first detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of another type of exoplanet, Tsiaras said. A NASA tally currently lists more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets and another 4,000 potential candidates. Most have been detected using the transit method, where telescopes watch for a slight, fleeting dimming of a star’s light as a planet passes in the field of view. For now, scientists know K2-18b takes 33 days to orbit its star, so one year there is one month here. At this distance, temperatures range from minus-100 degrees to 116 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 73 degrees to 47 degrees Celsius.) The star, glowing red in the day sky, is believed to bombard the planet with radiation harsh enough to quickly inflict any human visitors with cancer, although “life there may have evolved differently” in order to survive, noted the London team’s Ingo Waldmann. A sister planet, meanwhile, orbits closer to the star and is likely too hot to be in the habitable zone. The cloud cover isn’t too thick on K2-18b, otherwise it would have obscured the water vapor in the atmosphere, according to the scientists. The surface, meanwhile, could be wet or dry. The London data suggest water vapor makes up anywhere between 0.01% and 50% of the atmosphere — “quite a big range,” Waldmann acknowledged. Either way, given the planet’s mass, it would be difficult to walk on the surface. “Maybe not quite your vacation destination just yet,” Waldmann joked. /gsg Read Next Read more: Inquirer

Japanese official wants Fukushima nuke plant water dumped into ocean

Sweden's highest peak is not the highest anymore – and you can blame climate change for thatSweden's tallest mountain loses its title, and climate change is to blame, as the glacier covering its summit continues to shrink due to rising temperatures, scientists have confirmed.

The iPhone 11 is here but is it worth the upgrade?Price, battery life, cameras, processing power, and color. Here's a look at the key differences among the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone XR, and iPhone XS.

Greece seeks to ban referees after FIBA World Cup exitGreece coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos accuses referees of disrespecting NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

IN PHOTOS: Things you didn't know about the ladies of 'Beautiful Justice'Here are some fun facts about the main stars of the newest Kapuso drama-action series.

Japanese official wants Fukushima nuke plant water dumped into ocean



Kisses Delavin sa pagganap sa 'Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko': 'Naninibago pero thankful...'

Duterte can be greatest President yet – Joma Sison

2,000 iPhones given for free by Japanese gov’t to passengers stuck on ship due to coronavirus

NBA loses 'hundreds of millions' in China over Hong Kong tweet

'You mess with one, you mess with all': Gov't has pattern of harassing media, journalists say

Robredo to PNP: Stop covering up for erring cops

Philippines to bring home Filipino crew from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Write Comment

Thank you for your comment.
Please try again later.

Latest News

News

12 September 2019, Thursday News

Previous news

PH to seek help from Dutch gov’t for Sison’s extradition — DILG

Next news

Duterte: Energy deal OK with China if PH drops claim
First antiviral drug gets green light to fight COVID-19 Ratings: TV premiere of ‘Wild Little Love’ a big hit, rules weekend LOOK: Anne Curtis stuns in nude maternity shoot Congress can pass ABS-CBN franchise if Duterte certifies it as urgent – lawmaker '3x3 belongs in PH,' says FIBA boss Singapore lowers growth forecast as virus hits economy 'Escorting modus' for POGOs: Immigration to probe 'pastillas' scheme WATCH: Dennis Trillo and Jennylyn Mercado recount their love story at 'CoLove Live' concert Even local personalities catch the K-drama 'Crash Landing On You' bug - Interaksyon Duterte appoints to DOH ex-PhilHealth exec who quit over fraudulent claims Philippine banana growers say coronavirus dampening exports to China WATCH: Did GMA News reporter Darlene Cay find love in the LRT while reporting?
Kisses Delavin sa pagganap sa 'Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko': 'Naninibago pero thankful...' Duterte can be greatest President yet – Joma Sison 2,000 iPhones given for free by Japanese gov’t to passengers stuck on ship due to coronavirus NBA loses 'hundreds of millions' in China over Hong Kong tweet 'You mess with one, you mess with all': Gov't has pattern of harassing media, journalists say Robredo to PNP: Stop covering up for erring cops Philippines to bring home Filipino crew from quarantined cruise ship in Japan House closer to passing bill allowing foreigners to own PH public utilities PH returns 3rd batch of trash from South Korea Ethel Booba welcomes 'Little Booba' to the world Bela Padilla, Korean actor Kim Gun-Woo to team up for movie ABL: Justin Brownlee to beef up Alab Pilipinas