Still making discoveries after more than 20 years in orbit, Hubble caught site of a pretty interesting planet. Not only is this planet shrouded in haze, but scientists believe it contains more water than Earth.
This new discovery led by Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has resulted in a new class of exoplanets. Mainly, exoplanets with volumes upon volumes of water make the cut.
This particular exoplanet orbits a red dwarf star at an estimated distance of 2 million kilometers. That’s 23 times closer than Mercury is to our Sun. Incidentally, this planet clocks in at a sizzling 230 degrees Celsius.
One may wonder how water could sustain its liquid form in such a steamy environment. Well, in addition to the high heat, the exoplanet also has high pressures. Scientists say this will lead to exotic phenomena like “hot ice” or “superfluid water”.
Unlike any planet observed before, this watery exoplanet is believed to have formed far from its host star. Accumulating large amounts of ice in the cold outer reaches of its solar system, the planet slowly made its way toward its star.
As it traveled closer toward the red dwarf, it undoubtedly passed through what scientists call the “habitable” or “goldilocks” zone. This is where the planet is not too hot or too cold, but just right to sustain life. However, scientists are unsure how long this extraterrestrial water world remained at the perfect distance. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain whether or not the planet had life.
For more information you may read the press release.