“WATER WORLD” – Newly Discovered Planet

A newly discovered planet orbiting a small, nearby star appears to be a “water world” with a surface that might be covered with liquid water. According to David Charbonneau, scientist of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass “This is certainly the first planet around another star which we think is mostly made of water”.


Image Credit: time.com

But the scientists have been able to determine that the planet is about 2.5 times the size of Earth, with a mass of about 6.5 times that of our home planet. And given that planets can be made of a limited number of common ingredients like light gases, rock and water, the scientists figured out what possible combinations of ingredients were likely for a planet of this size and weight.

Charbonneau who led the research team says that the newly found planet named GJ 1214b is mostly made of water, with a thin atmosphere surrounding it, perhaps of hydrogen and helium. (Reported npr.org) Charbonneau is hopeful that more will be learned about this new planet by using the Hubble Space Telescope to look at light from the star that passes through the planet’s atmosphere. “Imprinted on that are the fingerprints of whatever gases are present in the atmosphere,” he says. His team plans to look for water in the atmosphere. They’ll also try to determine how thick the atmosphere is, to see if this planet truly does seem to be a relatively thin atmosphere surrounding what’s basically a ball of water.



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