This planet is 2.6 times larger than Earth and has a hydrogen-rich atmosphere.
The Webb Space Telescope observed an exoplanet not far from us, discovered 8 years ago. New data suggests that this planet may be completely covered with water, and signs of the possible existence of extraterrestrial life have also been found here, writes The Guardian.
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The exoplanet K2-18 b orbits a cooler and smaller star than the Sun at a distance of 120 light-years from us. According to a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the object could be classified as a type of planet called a Hycean or oceanic planet.
K2-18 b’s diameter is 2.6 times Earth’s diameter, while the planet has 8.6 times Earth’s mass. But the most important thing is that it is located near its star in the so-called habitable zone. This means that conditions for the existence of liquid water exist on this planet.
But astronomers believe that not only is there water on this planet, but that its entire surface is covered by a huge ocean, meaning that it is a world made entirely of water. However, this is only preliminary data and still requires clarification.
The planet’s atmosphere is most likely composed of hydrogen with admixtures of methane and carbon dioxide, preliminary data from the Webb Telescope show. Carbon molecules have also been found in the atmosphere, possibly suggesting that life could exist here, as carbon is one of the building blocks of known living organisms.
Webb observations have discovered even more interesting molecules than carbon. According to scientists, dimethyl sulfide molecules have been spotted on this planet, which are a byproduct of phytoplankton activity in Earth’s marine environment. But this data also still needs to be confirmed.
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So far it turns out that the planet near us could be an oceanic world, which may also be inhabited. But scientists are cautious about the results because they need to conduct further observations of K2-18 b to gain more information about the planet. It is necessary to understand whether there is actually a rocky planet completely covered with water under a not very thick layer of atmosphere, but also how much dimethyl sulfide is in its atmosphere.
But there is another problem. Even if K2-18 b is a water world, there does not necessarily have to be life here or there are conditions for its development. According to scientists, the ocean on this planet may be a “boiling soup,” that is, the water here is so hot that no living organism can survive. At least according to theories about the Hykeans, this could be a common occurrence on such planets.
focus I’ve previously written that astronomers have discovered a strange planet that defies theories and may be half rock and half water.
Also focus wrote that scientists are trying to solve the mystery of a new exoplanet that has become smaller. The reason for this is still unknown.