Latest in Science

Image credit:

With new method, scientists find water on an exoplanet

Using the Very Large Telescope, we can now sniff the air of a planet 50 light years away.
Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
February 2, 2017
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Finding planets is hard, finding water on planets is harder, and finding water on exoplanets is pretty damn hard. And yet, a group of scientists claim to have achieved just that with the help of the Very Large Telescope in Chile. They believe that 51 Pegasi B, (also known as Dimidum), an exoplanet more than 50 light years away, has traces of water in its atmosphere.

As New Scientist explains, all previous discoveries of water have relied upon planets passing between its host star and the Earth. But exoplanets rarely "transit" in this manner, making it nigh-impossible to study their atmospheres.

So, the team took a different approach, observing both the planet and the star as they interacted with each other. For four hours, the telescope as pointed at both bodies, watching what light was reflected between the two.

One the data had been cleaned up, the team were able to draw a handful of conclusions about the celestial body. For instance, there is about 1 part in 10,000 of water in its atmosphere, with negligible quantities of carbon dioxide and methane.

Of course, we won't be able to validate their findings until someone's brave enough to head over to 51 Pegasi B for a look. Which might take a while, since the planet is closer to its sun than Mercury is to ours, and is hurtling around on a four day orbit.

In this article: 51PegasiB, Dimidum, Exoplanet, science, space, Water
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

LG's rollable OLED TV goes on sale for $87,000

LG's rollable OLED TV goes on sale for $87,000

View
Parallels brings Windows 10 to Chromebooks

Parallels brings Windows 10 to Chromebooks

View
Cyberpunk 2077's dialogue was lip-synced by AI

Cyberpunk 2077's dialogue was lip-synced by AI

View
iPhone 12 and 12 Pro review: Apple enters the 5G era

iPhone 12 and 12 Pro review: Apple enters the 5G era

View
Portrait Light effects in Google Photos come to older Pixel phones

Portrait Light effects in Google Photos come to older Pixel phones

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr