Astronomers suggest that there may be an ocean and life on a distant exoplanet

Astronomers suggest that there may be an ocean and life on a distant exoplanet

The James Webb space telescope detected carbon molecules, methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the exoplanet K2-18 b.

Researchers believe that the surface of the exoplanet may be completely covered with water, and life may exist on it, reports

K2-18 b has 8.6 times the mass of Earth and is located about 120 light-years away.


The new research found traces of carbon dioxide and methane in the exoplanet’s atmosphere, but no ammonia.

Scientists suggest that an ocean exists beneath the hydrogen-rich atmosphere of K2-18 b.

Exoplanet K2-18 b. Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted

Also, the James Webb Space Telescope may have detected molecules called dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which on Earth are produced by living organisms in the marine environment.

However, scientists emphasize that the presence of dimethyl sulfide has not yet been definitively confirmed and further research is needed.

“Future Webb observations may confirm whether DMS (dimethyl sulfide – ed.) does exist in the atmosphere of K2-18 b at significant levels,” – said Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge and the lead author of the study.


Scientists are now cautious about the possibility of extraterrestrial life on K2-18 b. Even if a planet has an ocean and an atmosphere containing carbon molecules, it does not mean that it has life.

The study says that the planet’s mantle may contain ice that forms at high temperatures and high pressures, like in Neptune’s interior.

If so, water could be boiling deep inside K2-18 b, making the planet’s oceans too hot for life.

Astronomers will continue to observe K2-18 b with the Webb Telescope to confirm their assumptions and gather more information about the exoplanet’s environment.

It will be recalled that earlier the Webb telescope showed the Ring Nebula, which was formed by a star that exploded during the last 2000 years.

Scientists have also found evidence of the existence of a giant ocean on Mars in the past.

Read also: The Hubble telescope photographed a galaxy in the constellation Sextant. PHOTO

Original Source Link