Scientists find water molecules on exoplanet 97 light years from Earth

Scientists find water molecules on exoplanet 97 light years from Earth

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have found water molecules on an exoplanet located 97 light-years away from Earth. The exoplanet, known as ‘GJ 9827d,’ is the smallest exoplanet observed so far, and water vapor has been detected in its atmosphere.

GJ 9827d is a rocky planet orbiting a red dwarf star. It has a diameter approximately twice that of Earth and completes an orbit in just 6.2 days. This indicates that the planet is very close to its star, resulting in very high surface temperatures.

Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to study the atmosphere of GJ 9827d. In this study, they found traces of water vapor molecules in the planet’s atmosphere. This implies that the atmosphere of GJ 9827d, similar to Earth’s atmosphere, is composed of water vapor.

The research team cannot determine whether Hubble captured traces of water vapor in an atmosphere rich in hydrogen or if the host star evaporated GJ 9827d’s original hydrogen and helium atmosphere, resulting in a water-rich atmosphere for the planet.

However, researchers say that this discovery is significant evidence that water may be found in the atmospheres of exoplanets, marking an important advancement in the search for Earth-like planets.

The discovery was led by Prof. Björn Benneke from the Trottier Institute for Exoplanetary Research at the University of Montreal, along with one of the study’s authors, Laura Kreidberg.

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