NASA telescope discovers super-Earth exoplanet with possible alien ocean

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope discovered a super-Earth exoplanet that may have an ocean of water approximately the size of the Atlantic.

1 minute & 38 seconds read time

A University of Michigan astronomer used NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to discover an exoplanet with a promising temperature, an indication of possible liquid water present.

NASA telescope discovers super-Earth exoplanet with possible alien ocean 651615156

The discovery of this exoplanet is part of the wider effort to discover another habitable planet, which, if it has the same or close enough ingredients to Earth, may harbor life. The discovery of a planet that has a reasonable temperature - a temperature that is both cool enough to host water but warm enough for it to be liquid - means researchers have a found a planet that may already be hosting life.

LHS 1140 b is one of those exoplanets, and according to Charles Cadieux, the lead author of the recently published paper on the exoplanet, "Of all currently known temperate exoplanets, LHS 1140 b could well be our best bet to one day indirectly confirm liquid water on the surface of an alien world."

As for specifics, LHS 1140 b orbits a red dwarf star 48 light years away from Earth within the constellation Cetus, and the exoplanet is positioned in what astronomers call the "habitable zone" of its host star, meaning it isn't too close to where it's impossible to have liquid water, and it isn't too far away that any water would be frozen. Using the JWST, data has been acquired that indicates the exoplanet's mass may be between 10 and 20% liquid water, which means there is likely a presence of an ocean.

"This would be a major milestone in the search for potentially habitable exoplanets," said Cadieux

However, LHS 1140 b might not be exactly like Earth, as astronomers theorize the exoplanet may be tidally locked to its host star, meaning only one side of the exoplanet faces its host star, and that would be the side of the exoplanet that has melted into what could be an ocean.

"This is the first time we have ever seen a hint of an atmosphere on a habitable zone rocky or ice-rich exoplanet," Ryan MacDonald, a NASA Sagan Fellow in the University of Michigan's Department of Astronomy

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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