Astronomers have found compelling evidence for the existence of ‘liquid’ water on a Super-Earth Exoplanet, according to Space Telescope. The K2-18B, with eight times the mass of Earth, orbits a red dwarf star, 111 light years away from our solar system. It was discovered in 2015 by the Kepler Space Telescope orbiting closer to its sun within the ‘Goldilocks Zone’.
Astronomers from University College London, on analyzing data recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016 and 2017, have concluded that the atmosphere on K2-18B can sustain liquid water. The study published in Nature Astronomy explains that this is the first case of atmospheric detection of water vapour on a planet orbiting its star within the habitable zone. As the exoplanet resides in the habitable zone, the temperature levels will allow water to exist in liquid state. The researchers used self-developed open source algorithms for compilation and analysis of the data from Hubble. The analysis found molecular signature of water vapour in the atmosphere of the exoplanet long with other gases such as helium, hydrogen, nitrogen and methane.
In another study, the data was recorded by a team of researchers working under Björn Benneker from University of Montréal from 2015 to 2018. As reported by National Geographic, data was recorded when K2-18b would pass across its star along its orbit which happens periodically after 33 days.
Their research was published on arXiv which found compelling evidence of the existence of water vapour on the planet. Dr. Angelos Tsiaras, author of the research paper published in Nature Astronomy explained that although it is exciting to find water on another planet, it might not be the best replacement for Earth because of its size and atmosphere.
As we try and convince people that climate change is real, it is ravaging through the atmosphere and causing irreparable damage. Abandoning Earth to inhabit another planet is a prospect that might be one day achievable but first, we need to find the suitable replacement and develop the means to get to it.