Water vapor in the atmosphere gives hope that K2-18b may have liquid water. The exoplanet is also the habitable zone. It provides the best potential for life that has been found so far.
A number of interesting exoplanets have been mapped recently, but now University College London has analyzed data on the most promising candidate for life so far.
K2-18b is 111 light years from Earth. The Hubble Telescope has detected water vapor in the atmosphere, and it is the first planet outside our own solar system to have this – giving hope for liquid water.
The planet is in the habitable zone, as seen from the red dwarf star in the solar system, where water can have a liquid form.
There is no “other earth”, says astronomer Angelos Tsiaras, lead author of the study, according to the Washington Post. But also that it is “the best candidate we have for residential right now”.
Does not remove the planet from the housing market
Even if the temperature on the planet supports the emergence of life, it would have had to develop a tolerance for the red dwarf star’s ultraviolet light, which is harmful to us.
With a more than twice the radius and mass eight times heavier than the earth, K2-18b may not feel like a good candidate for colonization – if we were ever able to get there, because of the distance. But scientists outside the study do not want to wipe the planet from the housing market.
– K2-18b is one of the potentially habitable planets in our Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, but not among the top 21. If it’s possible to live on the planet is determined by things that are still unknown, says Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at University of Puerto Rico-Arecibo to Popular Mechanics.
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Hopefully we will get a response in two years. Then the James Webb telescope is in operation, and will hopefully be able to reveal more facts about K2-18b.
The researchers’ work has been published in Nature Astronomy.