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Scientists detect water vapor on distant exoplanet

11 Sep 2019, 17:00 UTC
Scientists detect water vapor on distant exoplanet
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Artist’s concept of super-Earth K2-18b, a distant world now known to have both water vapor in its atmosphere and relatively moderate temperatures. Can it – does it – support life? Image via ESA/Hubble/M. Kornmesser/UCL News.
Scientists announced another exciting discovery today (September 11, 2019) regarding potentially habitable exoplanets! For the first time, they’ve detected water vapor in the atmosphere of a distant world, in this case a super-Earth called K2-18b, orbiting a star in the direction of our constellation Leo. A star’s habitable zone is the zone where liquid water might exist. And water is essential for life as we know it. But this is the first-ever actual detection of water vapor for any exoplanet, and this planet does indeed orbit in its star’s habitable zone. That means it also has relatively moderate temperatures, by earthly standards. With confirmed water vapor and habitable temperatures, K2-18b has just become a very intriguing target in the search for life.
The peer-reviewed discovery was published in a paper today (September 11, 2019) in Nature Astronomy, by researchers from University College London (UCL). Another paper (draft version) was also published on ArXiv on September 10, 2019.
The new work marks the first overall successful ...

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