NASA’s Hubble Telescope finds water vapor in exoplanet’s atmosphere.

Astronomers have made a groundbreaking discovery using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, as they have detected water molecules in the atmosphere of a small exoplanet located 97 light-years away from Earth. The exoplanet, named GJ 9827d, is about twice the size of Earth and could potentially represent other planets with water-rich atmospheres in our galaxy.

According to Bjorn Benneke, a member of the research team from the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets at Universite de Montreal, this discovery is significant because it provides direct evidence that planets with water-rich atmospheres can exist around stars other than our Sun. It is a crucial step towards understanding the prevalence and diversity of atmospheres on rocky planets.

Laura Kreidberg, co-principal investigator from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, also emphasized the importance of this finding. She stated that the presence of water on a planet as small as GJ 9827d is a landmark discovery and brings scientists closer to characterizing truly Earth-like worlds.

Despite the excitement surrounding the detection of water molecules, scientists believe that GJ 9827d is unlikely to be capable of supporting life due to its extreme temperatures, which would turn a water-rich atmosphere into steam. However, researchers are still investigating the composition of this unique exoplanet’s atmosphere.

The study, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, revealed that the research team is unsure whether the water vapor traces detected by Hubble indicate the presence of a puffy, hydrogen-rich atmosphere or if the exoplanet originally had a water-rich atmosphere that was evaporated by its host star.

Pierre-Alexis Roy, the lead author of the study from the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets at Universite de Montreal, highlighted the significance of their observations. He mentioned that until now, astronomers had not been able to directly detect the atmosphere of such a small planet, and this discovery marks a significant milestone in their understanding of exoplanets.

Considering the scorching temperatures of GJ 9827d, which are comparable to those of Venus at 800 degrees Fahrenheit, NASA suggests that it would be an inhospitable and steamy world if the atmosphere were predominantly water vapor. The research team is currently considering two possibilities: the planet may still retain a hydrogen-rich atmosphere mixed with water, resembling a mini-Neptune, or it could resemble a warmer version of Jupiter’s moon Europa, with a composition of half water and half rock.

The exploration of GJ 9827d and its water-rich atmosphere opens up new avenues for studying exoplanets and advancing our understanding of the potential for habitable worlds beyond our solar system.

Disclaimer: Only the headline and content of this report may have been reworked by Newsearay, staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed. The Article was originally published on Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *