Recently, scientists from the University of Cambridge have discovered an intriguing exoplanet. They estimated to be twice of our planet’s size, and it could be habitable, as well. The team utilized the radius, mass, and atmospheric information from the exoplanet K2-18b and defined if it’s possible to host liquid water at livable states underneath its hydrogen-abundant atmosphere. K2-18b is 124 light-years away and is 8.6 times the mass and 2.6 times the radius of Earth. It orbits its star within the livable area, where temperatures could let liquid water to exist.
K2-18b Exoplanet Might House Life as We Know It
K2-18b caught scientists’ attention back in autumn 2019 when they indicated the detection of water vapor in its hydrogen-abundant atmosphere. The intensity of the atmosphere and the states of the core beneath remained unknown. For scientists, to determine the chances for habitability, it’s significant to get a consolidated comprehension of those atmospheric and interior conditions on the K2-18b. Mainly, if the liquid water can be detected underneath the atmosphere.
According to the massive size of the exoplanet, it has been indicated that it would resemble a smaller variant of Neptune than a bigger model of our planet. So, a so-called “mini-Neptune” is supposed to possess a lot of hydrogen “envelope” enclosing a layer of high-pressure water, with an inner center of iron and rock.
Moreover, if the hydrogen case is too dense, the pressure and temperature from the ground of the water floor underneath would be huge to support life. The team led by Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan got quite the information about K2-18b. They confirmed the atmospheric features as boundary states for models of the planetary inside.
“We wanted to know the thickness of the hydrogen envelope – how deep the hydrogen goes. While this is a question with multiple solutions, we’ve shown that you don’t need much hydrogen to explain all the observation together,” explained Matthew Nixon, from the Institute of Astronomy.