Water Found On Exoplanet Smaller Than Jupiter, 124 Light Years Away From Earth

By: | October 15th, 2014

Scientists have found water vapor on an exoplanet 124 light years away from earth, called HAT-P-11b.

The discovery marks the first time water has been found on an exoplanet smaller than Jupiter ever.

Generally, smaller planets are difficult to study because of heavy cloud cover, but when HAT-P-11b passed in front of its host star, astronomers were able to clearly see that the planet indeed had water vapor.

The major takeaway from the new finding is the fact that this planet could potentially support life because liquid water, in addition to an energy source and carbon-based molecules are required to survive.

HAT-P-11b is approximately four times larger than Earth and the water vapor was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Luckily for astronomers and the public, Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope is set to begin operation 2018 and will provide even better instruments and technology for studying the latest planet with water found in its atmosphere.

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