Water Found On Habitable Planet Outside Our Solar System For The First Time

Super Earth

Scientists have located the best planet yet where humanity could retreat to if this whole run-away global warming thing keeps getting worse.

It’s called K2-18b, and we know it’s not exactly the name you’d want on a postcard. But it’s a roughly Earth-sized planet with water and a temperature range between 0 and 40 degrees C (32 to 104 degrees F), which is pretty much as good as it gets in terms of finding somewhere to place a human colony.

The only problem is it’s 111 light-years away, so even if we managed to create a space ship that could travel at the speed of light tomorrow, it will still take 111 light-years to get there.

Scientists found K2-18b back in 2015 thanks to Nasa's Kepler space probe. Data was then handed over to the University College London for analysis and a few years later a research team headed by Professor Giovanna Tinetti says they've detected water vapor in K2-18b's atmosphere.

The big deal is that this is the first time water has been detected on a habitable planet. Every other time scientists have located water on a planet outside of our solar system, the planet was either too big, too hot, or too cold. K2-18b isn't a paradise, but it resides in what is believed to be the habitable zone around its star, which means liquid water should be present on the planet's surface.

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The other big deal is that K2-18b might be home to extraterrestrial life.

via ESA

However, we're not 100% sure. The planet is too far away for accurate readings, and what the research would love to do most is look for trace hydrocarbons in the atmosphere that might indicate living creatures. Sadly, it was basically all they could do to determine if water existed on K2-18b, and they admitted in their report (published in Nature Astronomy) that we'll have to wait for the next generation of telescopes before we'll be able to get more accurate information and find traces of life.

And before you think to move to K2-18b, the planet is roughly twice the size of Earth so that means twice the gravity. Just standing would be a workout, and walking around would feel like you were literally carrying an extra body.

(via BBC)

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