First Known Exoplanet With Clouds And Rain Discovered

In the last few years, scientists and experts have managed to find various exoplanets sitting both near and far from our very own solar system. Starting from the very first detection back in 1992, up until the latest one detected this year, these exoplanets vary greatly in terms of what a planet should have. Some are just dry, desolate and barren, others are red, hot and flaming and one is even reported to be filled with gems and crystals.

With that being said however, a newly detected one may have something no other discovered exoplanet so far has: clouds and maybe even a little bit of rain.

“Water vapor exists everywhere in the universe . But it’s not so easy to make liquid water; you need the right pressure and the right temperature. That’s what makes this planet special,” Björn Benneke, astronomer from the University of Montreal, said. Benneke reportedly revealed the discovery in a September 10 paper posted online.

Named K2 18b, the exoplanet was reportedly discovered via a combination of simulations and observations using space telescopes, and might be the first ever exoplanet orbiting a distant star that has water vapor in it.

Originally, K2 18b was first discovered back in 2015 by the Kepler space telescope, which specializes in hunting for exoplanets. About 2.5 times larger than our own planet, K2 18b is reportedly orbiting a red dwarf star some 110 light years away.

While much larger than our planet however, K2 18b is reportedly orbiting the star at its habitable zone, which is the region around stars where surrounding planets get the necessary temperatures that can produce liquid water.

“Until now, the planets for which we had the atmosphere observed and found water were gas giants, planets more similar to Jupiter, Saturn or Neptune . K2 18b’s location in the habitable zone, size and watery atmosphere mean that this is the best candidate for habitability that we now have,” Angelos Tsiaras, astronomer from University College London, said.

Nevertheless, some astronomers and exoplanet-experts remain skeptical, noting that at the moment, the research made is not conducive enough to prove that K2 18b has raindrops or even water vapor in it.

Exoplanet Artist's impression of an exoplanet within the solar system's habitable zone. Pixabay