New observations from Hubble and Spitzer, meaning two telescopes operated by NASA, reveal the discovery of two exoplanets 218 light-years away that might be teeming with water. Perhaps everybody knows that when an astronomer finds such a so-called “water world,” it’s a good reason to open the champagne.
Where there’s water, there’s also potential for life to exist. No organism on Earth would be able to survive without liquid water, which means that extraterrestrial life should behave the same. But until we encounter any aliens willing to shake hands and give us the secrets of the Universe and for how to win each poker game, let’s focus on what we know for sure!
Eyes set on the Kepler-138 planetary system
Kepler-138 is the name of the planetary system in question that contains a red dwarf star orbited by two potential “water worlds” known as Kepler-138c and Kepler-138d, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Researchers at the University of Montreal are the ones responsible for the new discovery, while Caroline Piaulet from the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) was the leader of the study.
The discovery indicates that the two exoplanets found nearly 218 light-years away in the Lyra constellation have water as one of the main components.
Björn Benneke, who’s a co-author of the study and also a professor of astrophysics at the University of Montreal, explained:
We previously thought that planets that were a bit larger than Earth were big balls of metal and rock, like scaled-up versions of Earth, and that’s why we called them super-Earths,
However, we have now shown that these two planets, Kepler-138c and d, are quite different in nature and that a big fraction of their entire volume is likely composed of water. It is the best evidence yet for water worlds, a type of planet that was theorized by astronomers to exist for a long time.
Stay tuned for more news about the Kepler-138 planetary system!