Water found 110 light years away

Water found 110 light years away

The report suggests that K2-18b was discovered during the extended second mission of the Kelper space telescope.

A Canadian-led team announced similar findings Tuesday.

"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. K2-18b is not "Earth 2.0" as it is significantly heavier and has a different atmospheric composition.

WION: What do we know of this exoplanet, is it gaseous in nature or does it have a surface?

Only K2-18b revealed the molecular signature of water, which is a vital ingredient for life on Earth.

This isn't the first time water's been detected in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, but previous candidates have had extremely hostile environments-like a Saturn-like behemoth with scorching surface temperatures, reports National Geographic's Michael Greshko.

Thanks to the space telescope "Hubble" astronomers found that the atmosphere of the planet K2-18b may more than half consist of water vapor.

K2-18b was discovered in 2015 and is one of hundreds of super-Earths - planets with a mass between Earth and Neptune - found by NASA's Kepler spacecraft.

Over the last decade or so, several studies (1,2,3,4) have confirmed the existence of water in the atmosphere of gas giants outside our solar system.

With data from the Hubble Space Telescope, water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere of an exoplanet within the habitable zone of its host star.

A NASA tally now lists more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets and another 4,000 potential candidates.

According to one of the study's authors, Angelos Tsiaras, K2-18b can not be called "second Earth", and not just because it is bigger than our planet. Pictured: A hand out image made available by the European Southern Observatory on August 24 2016, shows an artist's impression of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System.

Another good news is the fact that the planet lies in the habitable zone of its star.

K2-18b is too far away for astronomers to see, but they can look at how starlight is filtered through the planet's atmosphere as it passes around its own sun, called K2-18.

In contrast, the proportion of water vapor in the planet's atmosphere varies between 0.2 percent over the rods and around four percent at the tropics. Either way, given the planet's mass, it would be hard to walk on the surface. Which means while promising for future exploration, "It's maybe not quite your vacation destination just yet", Ingo Waldmann, a researcher on Tsiaras' team, told The Guardian.

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