Astronomers at University College of London (UCL) have for the first time discovered water in the atmosphere of a potentially habitable planet, making it a candidate in the search for alien life.
While describing the discovery, Lead scientist, UCL, Prof. Giovanna Tinetti said "This is the first time that we have detected water on a planet in the habitable zone around a star where the temperature is potentially compatible with the presence of life,"
Further details about the findings are published in the ‘Nature Astronomy’ scientific journal.
According to BBC, within 10 years, there would be new space telescopes that might be able to determine whether the planet’s atmosphere contains gases that could produce living organisms.
The planet named K2-18b is orbiting in the habitable zone of a distant star, with temperature sufficient enough for water to exist in liquid form on the surface of the planet.
UCL’s Dr Ingo Waldmann said the distance of K2-18b is 111 light-years away (650 million miles) from Earth, making it too far to send a probe. So scientist would have to wait for the new space telescopes to look for the presence of gases in the planet’s atmosphere.
"This is one of the biggest questions in science and we have always wondered if we are alone in the Universe,"
"Within the next 10 years, we will know whether there are chemicals that are due to life in those atmospheres," Dr Waldmann said.
Among all the planets discovered by the Hubble Telescope between 2016 and 2017, K2-18b is the only planet that showed the presence of water in it.