A new study conducted by a team of researchers has detected water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet outside the solar system. The research report revealed that the temperature in the exoplanet is ideal to host alien life. The exoplanet, named K2-18b, is orbiting a red dwarf star 110 light-years away from Earth in the Leo constellation.
In the research report now available in the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists revealed that this exoplanet has eight times the mass of the earth, which makes it a super-earth. K2-18b was discovered by NASA in 2015 and since then, scientists have been studying its peculiarities.
During the study, researchers made use of archival data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2016 and 2017 and found clear signs of water vapour in the exoplanet's atmosphere. Scientists also made it clear that there are traces of hydrogen and helium in its atmosphere, two of the most abundant elements in the universe.
Apart from detecting water in the atmosphere, scientists also revealed that K2-18b is located within the habitable zone of the star, which makes it a potential contender to host alien life. The exoplanet completes one orbit around its sun every 33 days. Based on the initial calculations, scientists also added that the red dwarf star is much cooler than our sun.
"Finding water in a potentially habitable world other than Earth is incredibly exciting. K2-18b is not 'Earth 2.0' as it is significantly heavier and has a different atmospheric composition. However, it brings us closer to answering the fundamental question: Is the Earth unique?" said Angelos Tsiaras, a researcher at the University College London's Centre for Space Exochemistry Data and the author of the study.
A few days back, another study conducted by a team of researchers led by University of Chicago geoscientist Stephanie Olson had suggested that certain exoplanets orbiting in the habitable zone of their stars could have better conditions for life to evolve and thrive than earth.