Greek astronomer discovers water vapour on 'life friendly' alien planet

This could also be possible that the water vapour got detected only in the habitable zone of the planet while there would be a shortage of habitable atmosphere.

K2-18b is likely to consist of silicates, like the earth, Mars and Venus, as well as ice cream.

More interesting is that this habitable-zone exoplanet has the right temperature to house liquid water on its surface. The exoplanet, named K2-18b, is orbiting a red dwarf star 110 light-years away from Earth in the Leo constellation.

The results obtained from archive data from 2016 and 2017 captured by the ESA/NSA Hubble Space telescope developed an open-source algorithms to analyse the starlight filtered through K2-18b's atmosphere.

Angelos Tsiaras, an astronomer at UCL, said the team is focusing its attention on identifying exoplanets with conditions similar to those on Earth.

"This planet is the best candidate we have outside our solar system" in the search for signs of life, co-author Giovanna Tinetti, an astronomer at University College London, told AFP.

There was also evidence of hydrogen and helium as well.

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"This isn't just because super-Earths such as K2-18b would be the most frequent planets within our galaxy, but also because red dwarfs - stars bigger than our Sun - will be the most typical stars" The newest creation of space-based star gazing tools led from the James Webb Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's ARIEL assignment will have the ability to explain exoplanet atmospheres in much greater detail.

As per the research, an exoplanet (planets present outside the solar system) called K2-18b has traces of water.

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

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. The London data suggest water vapor makes up anywhere between 0.01% and 50% of the atmosphere - "quite a big range", Waldmann acknowledged. While it's thought to be rocky, no one knows if water's flowing on the surface. Researchers believe that other molecules including nitrogen and methane may be present but, with current observations they remain undetectable.

Despite the findings of their study, the researchers noted that further investigations and observations are yet to be conducted to confirm the existence of liquid water on K2-18b. Habitability-wise, K2-18b now has a status that no other exoplanet ever had. It was discovered using a Kepler Space Telescope back in 2015.

"In the next five or ten years the James Webb Space Telescope and others are being launched that are created to ... find more details of the atmosphere".

  • Douglas Reid