Astronomers discover potential “water world” exoplanet near Earth that could support life

Astronomers discover potential "water world" exoplanet near Earth that could support life
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Scientists this week announced the discovery of a nearby “super earth‘ which could potentially support life, and calls it a ‘water world’.

The team, led by the University of Montrealused observations from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), as well as telescopes on the ground to see them exoplanet, which is described as potentially rocky like Earth but larger. Dubbed TOI-1452 b, it orbits a red dwarf star about 100 light-years from our planet, which scientists say is “pretty close.”

Scientists have long theorized the possibility of other oceanic planets, but confirming them has been difficult. TOI-1452 b is about 70% larger than Earth and about five times as massive, which would be consistent with a very deep ocean – but more research is needed.

Says NASA The planet could also potentially be a giant rock with little or no atmosphere – or even a rocky planet with an atmosphere of hydrogen or helium.

Artist’s rendering of exoplanet TOI-1452 b, a small planet that may be entirely covered by deep ocean.

Benoît Gougeon, University of Montreal

A year on TOI-1452 b lasts just 11 days, but it gets similar amounts of light from its smaller, cooler star as Venus does from the Sun. Despite its tight orbit, it’s in the “habitable zone,” meaning it could have much-coveted liquid water on its surface.

If this “unique” exoplanet were confirmed to be a sea world, its ocean would be significantly deeper than Earth’s. While our planet is 70% water, oceans make up less than 1% of the planet’s mass – while water on TOI-1452 b could make up 30% of its mass, according to one simulation.

“TOI-1452 b is one of the best ocean planet candidates we’ve found so far,” he said Director of Studies Charles Cadieux. “Its radius and mass indicate a much lower density than one would expect for a planet composed essentially of metal and rock, like Earth.”

If this simulation is accurate, it would make the planet comparable to watery moons in our solar system Jupiters Ganymede and Callisto, which scientists believe hide deep oceans beneath their surfaces.

surface planet-toi1452b-1920px.jpg
Artist’s rendering of the surface of TOI-1452 b, which may be an “oceanic planet”, meaning a planet completely covered by a thick layer of liquid water.

Benoît Gougeon, University of Montreal.

That James Webb Space Telescope is on a mission to understand the origins of our universe, but researchers say it might take some incidental time to observe TOI-1452 b, which “fortunately” appears in the constellation Draco, part of the sky near Webb can be seen most times of the year.

“Our observations with the Webb telescope will be essential to better understand TOI-1452 b,” said researcher René Doyon, who also works with one of the four science instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope. “As soon as we can, we will book time at the Webb to observe this strange and wonderful world.”

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