Astronomers have detected water vapors on a planet beyond the solar system in the constellation of Leo. They mark it the most habitable known planet outside the solar system.
Astronomers claimed that the planet named K2-18b -where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist- bears the most habitable conditions among other exoplanets known right now. According to the report in Nature Astronomy, K2-18b has between 0.01% and 50% water in its atmosphere.
“This is the first potentially habitable planet where the temperature is right and where we know there is water,” said Angelos Tsiaras, an astronomer at University College London, while giving an interview to the Guardian. “It’s the best candidate for habitability right now.” The discovery has raised hopes that the planet might host living organisms, too. Aliens?
K2-18b was first spotted in 2015 by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. The planet is roughly twice as big as Earth and eight times its mass, putting its size between Earth’s and Neptune’s. It orbits a red dwarf approximately 110 light years away. Red dwarfs, less than half the size of the sun, produce far less heat than the sun. The planet completes an orbit every 33 days, stretching its year approximately equal to an Earth’s month.
“Today’s technology is too feeble to take photos of the surfaces of such distant worlds but space-based telescopes can glean some information about the atmospheres on alien planets,” claims the Guardian in its report.
K2-18b, a super-Earth, is more like our home planet’s cousin rather than Earth’s twin. “K2-18b doesn’t even boast Earth-like conditions,” said Tsiaras, while speaking to space.com. “It is definitely not a second Earth.”
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