Amidst the massive outbreak of coronavirus all over the globe, some of our thoughts are floating towards other planets.
It’s been just revealed that there’s a nearby exoplanet with rainclouds in the atmosphere that may be habitable due to the conditions that it has on its surface.
A potential second home 124 light-years away
According to ScienceMag.org, the planet is called K2-18b, and it is 124 light-years away.
It’s 2.6 times the radius of Earth. Back in 2019, astronomers detected clouds of liquid water in the planet’s hydrogen-rich atmosphere, and the finding was really important because it’s a first for such a small planet.
K2-18b is midway in size between Earth and Neptune, and it’s also worth noting that it’s in the habitable zone of its star.
This means that liquid water on its surface is possible, but no one knows what its surface is like.
Experts cannot say for sure whether the planet has a rocky exterior and a thin atmosphere just like our beloved earth. It might also have a dense hydrogen atmosphere above a high-pressure water-ammonia ocean and metallic core, just like Neptune.
Such conditions would not be life-friendly at all.
The online publication mentioned above notes that a team of researchers in the UK describe in The Astrophysical Journal Letters the way in which they were able to calculate a range of possible atmospheres for the planet, “based on its mass, size, and previously measured spectra of light that passed from K2-18b’s star through its atmosphere.”
It’s important to mention the fact that they used these possibilities in order to limit what conditions could exist in the planet’s interior.
The conclusion was that the planet’s core could be a ball of pure iron with a hydrogen atmosphere or something more similar to Neptune. It could also be something similar to Earth with a lighter atmosphere and ocean conditions.