While hunting for alien life, astronomers have come across a planet around 179 light years away that contains water
While hunting for alien life, astronomers have come across a planet around 179 light years away that contains water in its atmosphere.
Researchers at Keck Observatory in Hawaii, while observing planet HR 8799c in search for alien life, detected water in its atmosphere. The gas planet, which is seven times the size of Jupiter, is one of the four that orbit the star HR 8799 every 200 years, and is located about 179 light years away, reported Daily Mail.
Astronomers used state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the existence of water and a lack of methane gas in HR 8799c’s atmosphere. The team combined high-resolution spectroscopy with a method known as ‘adaptive optics’ that rectifies the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere.
As the planet’s image was captured, astronomers then used spectrometers for breaking the planet’s light apart. The images were then analyzed for the chemical composition in their atmosphere. The team was then able to make accurate calculations of the planets, confirming the presence of water and absence of methane, reported Universe Today.
For future, the aim for the scientists at the observatory is to look for chemicals signaling a habitable atmosphere for life on Earth-like planets such as methane, oxygen and water, as per the study published in the Astronomical Journal.
Though there are many exoplanets been photographed, HR 8799 is till now the sole multi-planet solar system to have its image taken. Researchers thus hope to repeat the process on smaller planets closer to their stars.