May 18, 2024

Webb telescope finds carbon-based molecules in the atmosphere of a water planet. Could this be a sign of life?

An artists idea shows what exoplanet K2-18 b could look like. Image credits: NASA, CSA, ESA, J. Olmsted (STScI), Science: N. Madhusudhan (Cambridge University).

In order to overcome this, the researchers examine can light from K2-18 bs parent star as it went through the exoplanets atmosphere. Envision this: when the world passes in front of its star, it blocks a few of the stars light. However another part of the stars light passes right above the planet, through its atmosphere. This passage leaves traces that astronomers can examine to much better understand the exoplanets atmosphere.

The brand-new data about the atmospheric properties of this exoplanet originated from observations made with NASAs James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This brand-new research study constructs on previous studies in 2020 and 2021 utilizing Webbs predecessors Hubble and Kepler. K2-18 b orbits the dwarf star K2-18 and lies light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo.

” This outcome was only possible since of the extended wavelength range and unprecedented sensitivity of Webb, which allowed robust detection of spectral functions with simply 2 transits,” said Madhusudhan. “For comparison, one transit observation with Webb supplied similar accuracy to eight observations with Hubble.”.

Researchers at NASA have discovered proof of methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the environment of K2-18 b, an exoplanet 8.6 times larger than earth as Earth. The discovery uses a look into a planet unlike anything in our Solar System and adds to current research studies that suggested K2-18 b could be an ocean world with a hydrogen-rich environment. Using JWSTs instruments, this brand-new study has actually determined methane and carbon dioxide in a hydrogen-rich environment on K2-18 b. The secrets of K2-18 b.

Scientists are particularly delighted about the capacity of this particle because in the world, DMS is just produced by life.

” Our findings underscore the importance of considering varied habitable environments in the search for life in other places,” Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge and lead author of the paper announcing these results, stated in a news release.

The paper has actually been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Next, the team intends to do follow-up research that they hope will even more validate their findings and offer new insight into the environmental conditions on K2-18 b. They will utilize Webbs Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) spectrograph to search for chemical signatures called biomarkers, consisting of dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which might show the presence of biological activity.

K2-18 b depends on what NASA calls the habitable zone, an area around a star where worlds with liquid water could be present. Its interior likely has a big mantle of high-pressure ice, comparable to Neptune, however with a thinner hydrogen-rich environment and an ocean-atmosphere. The ocean may be too hot to be habitable or liquid.

Scientists at NASA have actually discovered proof of methane and co2 (CO2) in the atmosphere of K2-18 b, an exoplanet 8.6 times bigger than earth as Earth. The discovery offers a peek into a world unlike anything in our Solar System and contributes to recent research studies that suggested K2-18 b might be an ocean planet with a hydrogen-rich atmosphere. Theres likewise an enticing particle in the planets environment.

The mysteries of K2-18 b.

Describing the atmospheres of exoplanets such as K2-18 b includes discerning their gas composition and physical qualities. This is a extremely dynamic and difficult field in astronomy, particularly as these exoplanets are outshone by the glare of their bigger moms and dad starts.

Image credits: NASA, CSA, ESA, J. Olmstead (STScI), N. Madhusudhan.

It would be maybe the biggest indication of life outside our solar system if the very same were to be reported on this planet.

K2-18 b lies in what NASA calls the habitable zone, a region around a star where planets with liquid water worlds be present. In order to conquer this, the scientists analyze can light from K2-18 bs moms and dad star as it passed through the exoplanets environment.

Using JWSTs instruments, this new study has identified methane and co2 in a hydrogen-rich environment on K2-18 b. This supports the hypothesis that there may be a water ocean on earth. The observations likewise provided the possible detection of a particle called dimethyl sulfide (DMS). In The World, DMS is only produced by living organisms.

Researchers had previously suggested K2-18 belonged to a brand-new class of exoplanets called “Hycean” worlds. The name comes from a mix of “hydrogen” and “ocean” as these worlds are covered in a hydrogen atmosphere and could support oceans.