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Clear skies reveal water on distant Neptune-sized planet (BBC)

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posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 03:36 PM
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A cloud-free atmosphere has allowed scientists to pick out signs of water vapour on a distant planet the size of Neptune: the smallest "exoplanet" ever to reveal its chemical composition.

Previously, only larger, Jupiter-like giants have been studied in this way.

Working with three space telescopes, astronomers deduced the presence of water by measuring the colours of light the planet absorbed when it passed in front of its star.

The find appears in the journal Nature.

Clear skies reveal water on distant Neptune-sized planet (BBC)

While it may be a bit over-simplistic to say "where there is water there is life", water is obviously extremely important to (known types of...) life so the fact that technology is advancing to the point that we can detect water on an Earth-sized planet around other suns is both somewhat surprising but also exciting.

As the article notes" Water has obvious implications for life". Unfortunately, the articles goes on to note that "although HAT P-11b is too close to its star - and therefore too hot - to be habitable" (although I'd query how the author knows what conditions are necessary for alien lifeforms, given the limited sample size currently examined...).

SETI is not limited to searching for radio signals.


The advances in SETI and the search for exo-planets put ufology to shame.


Other news outlets are also now reporting this news, including:

www.theguardian.com...


“Although this planet is not classically habitable, it reveals to us that when we find Earth 2.0, we will be able to use this technique, transmission spectroscopy, to understand its atmosphere and determine the quality of life available on its shores,” said Jonathan Fraine, a graduate student and first author on the study.

If cloud cover were widespread on smaller planets beyond the solar system, astronomers would need radically different approaches or far more advanced technology to probe their atmospheres. “Now we know that not all warm Neptunes form with high-altitude clouds, we can again explore the diversity of planet formation and gain greater context for our own creation,” said Fraine.

Future studies of alien atmospheres may detect proportions of gases that point to life below. On Earth, methane, ammonia and nitrous oxide are produced mostly by bacteria, while oxygen comes from plants and other photosynthesising organisms. Because the gases are not made in large amounts by anything else, they are considered “biosignatures”, or signs of life




edit on 24-9-2014 by IsaacKoi because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 03:47 PM
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a reply to: IsaacKoi

I don't think it's over-simplistic at all to assume water = life. Nearly all water environments that science is aware of at this point have life of some kind. I'd be more surprised to find a Neptune-sized planet covered with water that has no life whatsoever. Exciting news!



posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 03:50 PM
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This is actually very major news, in historical terms. What a great discovery. In some ways this find ranks quite high in historic achievements, imnho.



posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 04:07 PM
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Quick! Launch a probe, bring it back, bottle it and charge $50,000 per bottle.



posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 04:30 PM
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Water gives life on this planet because all living biological organisms that move are pretty much dependent on the stuff, we are made of water we evolved out of water and the building blocks from our most distant ancestor was water.
Carl Sagan explained it best in his Cosmos book that life might be somewhere else in our solar system, but made from different variations of 'star stuff'.
Water is all over our galaxy, and maybe even the entire universe, but it's simply just a element chemical compound that has formed over the billions of years this universe has been around for.
So what does this mean? Well, from what we know life can only come from liquid water under circumstances and conditions such as we see here on earth. And a moon that far away water would freeze, to the sun it would almost not even show in the night sky. Even if there was enough greenhouse effect and the heat given off from the gas giant, that liquid might be something completely different, just like we see on Venus and Mercury.
It's cool and all that we found water on one of Neptune's moons, but it's nothing striking about our solar system to be honest.



posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 04:33 PM
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originally posted by: strongfp
It's cool and all that we found water on one of Neptune's moons, but it's nothing striking about our solar system to be honest.


But this news is about water on a planet in another solar system...



posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 04:51 PM
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a reply to: IsaacKoi

Im wondering, if the planet in question is too near its star to be habitable, surely then there would be no water?
Would'nt it be too hot for water too?
Would'nt it evaporate?



posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 04:53 PM
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a reply to: SecretKnowledge

It's water vapor. The temp is 600 c.
edit on 24-9-2014 by Yeahkeepwatchingme because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 05:18 PM
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a reply to: SecretKnowledge

Extremophiles can survive in the bone crushing abyssal depths of the deep volcaninc canyons in Earth's oceans and in the deepest super cold lakes... The question shouldn't be is there life on other planets, in other systems. The question is how much life is there? The mathmatics support that life exists somewhere out in the universe. Logic dictates that we are not the only life around... pretty big place, the universe.

Cool thread. Water is a big deal for life as we know it. Pretty much the reason we exist here. The laws of the universe being, well, universal, suggests that this applies elsewhere, too. If our own planet is an example of how life can thrive in the harshest of environments, i see no reason why it wouldn't do so elsewhere in the cosmos. It's just a matter of time before we find life that talks back... "officially", that is.

Math doesn't lie! It's out there.



posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 07:25 PM
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Yeh they got water but we got beer!



posted on Sep, 25 2014 @ 12:24 AM
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originally posted by: IsaacKoi

originally posted by: strongfp
It's cool and all that we found water on one of Neptune's moons, but it's nothing striking about our solar system to be honest.


But this news is about water on a planet in another solar system...

Water Vapor



posted on Sep, 25 2014 @ 12:25 AM
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a reply to: SecretKnowledge




Would'nt it evaporate?

Yes.
It did.



posted on Sep, 25 2014 @ 12:59 PM
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originally posted by: Urantia1111
a reply to: IsaacKoi

I don't think it's over-simplistic at all to assume water = life. Nearly all water environments that science is aware of at this point have life of some kind. I'd be more surprised to find a Neptune-sized planet covered with water that has no life whatsoever. Exciting news!


The fact that life is in every environment on Earth if which there is liquid water may also be a function of the fact that there is life on earth in the first place, and life is tenacious.

That does not necessarily mean that life will be every place in the universe in which there is liquid water. I can imagine a planet on which life never got started (or has yet to get started), and has liquid water.

(...and I do realize that in the case of this exoplanet, we are talking water vapor, and not liquid water. However, the idea is still worthy of discussion.)



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