“A Hubble First” –Exoplanet Hosting both Water & Temperature That Could Support Life

Hubble Super Earth K2-18b

 

K2-18b, which is eight times the mass of Earth, is now the only exoplanet known to have both water and temperatures that could support life. The discovery is the first successful atmospheric detection for an exoplanet orbiting in its star’s ‘habitable zone’, at a distance where water can exist in liquid form.

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“Extreme Destruction” –Volcanic Exo-Moon Detected Similar to Jupiter’s Io

Jupiter's Moon Io

 

“While the current wave of research is going towards habitability and biosignatures, our signature is a signature of destruction,” astrophysicist Apurva Oza at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern about the detection of an “exo-moon” hidden at the exoplanet system WASP-49b that appears to be an extreme version of Jupiter’s moon Io –the volcanic epicenter of our solar system. “A few of these worlds could be destroyed in a few billion years due to the extreme mass loss. The exciting part is that we can monitor these destructive processes in real time, like fireworks.”

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“Clouds of Rock” –Nighsides of Hot Jupiter Exoplanets

Hot Jupiter Darkside

 

Using data from the Spitzer Space and the Hubble Space telescopes, a new study by astronomers from the McGill Space Institute has found that the temperature on the nightsides of different hot Jupiters is surprisingly uniform at about 800°C, suggesting the dark side of these massive gaseous planets have clouds made of minerals and rocks.

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Last Week’s Top 5 Space & Science Headlines –“Milky Way’s First Civilization to Jupiter’s 350-Year Mystery”

ESO Observatories

 

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Global Exoplanet Oceans –“May Support More Active, Abundant Life than Earth”

Exoplanet Ocean

 

“NASA’s search for life in the Universe is focused on so-called Habitable Zone planets, which are worlds that have the potential for liquid water oceans,” says Stephanie Olson at the University of Chicago. “But not all oceans are equally hospitable–and some oceans will be better places to live than others due to their global circulation patterns”.

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“Alien Glow” –May Indicate Hidden Biospheres on Exoplanets

Hidden Biosphere

 

“This is a completely novel way to search for life in the universe. Just imagine an alien world glowing softly in a powerful telescope,” said lead author Jack O’Malley-James, a researcher at Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute about ultraviolet radiation flares from red suns that might trigger a protective glow from life called biofluorescence.

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