This planet light-years from Earth may be covered in ocean, NASA says
Story by Ellen Francis
Scientists have made a new discovery that hints at a possible water ocean on a massive planet many lights-years away from Earth, though it is not clear if it could support life, according to NASA.
Researchers made the announcement after examining data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, gazing more than 100 light-years from Earth at an exoplanet — or a planet beyond our solar system — in the constellation Leo that goes by the name K2-18 b and is 8.6 times as massive as our planet.
The astronomers, led by the University of Cambridge, found methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of K2-18 b, results that are “consistent with an ocean-covered surface underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere,” the university said.
“The discovery provides a glimpse into a planet unlike anything else in our Solar System, and raises interesting prospects about potentially habitable worlds elsewhere in the Universe,” it said Monday.Webb telescope is already challenging what astronomers thought they knew
NASA said the findings — including “the abundance of methane and carbon dioxide, and shortage of ammonia” — support the hypothesis that the exoplanet might be covered in ocean.