Scientists say rocky water worlds are more common in the Milky Way than we thought

Amazing new study published in Sciences It indicates that many planets orbiting stars outside our solar system contain water.

However, this does not mean that most of them are ocean worlds like Earth nor does it mean that they can host life forms. In fact, the study by the University of Chicago and the Institute for Astronomical Planets (IAC) suggests that while many planets may contain significantly more water than previously thought, all of that water is likely embedded in rocks — or perhaps even in the oceans. subterranean.

The research looked at the masses and radii of all 43 known exoplanets — all smaller than Neptune — around so-called red dwarf stars, which are cooler than our sun and make up about 80% of all known stars in our Milky Way.

The study showed that a much larger number of planets than previously thought could contain significant amounts of water, which could amount to 50% of the total mass of these exoplanets.

“We have discovered the first experimental evidence that there are a large number of water worlds and that they are in fact almost as abundant as Earth-like planets,” said Rafael Luque of the University of Chicago and Andalusia Institute. CSIC).

This insight comes from a discovery about the densities of exoplanets, specifically that they are too light to be formed entirely of rock. “We found that it is the density of a planet, not its radius, as previously thought, that separates the dry planets from the wet planets,” Loki said. Evidence suggests that these exoplanets must be made up of half rock, half water, or lighter particles.

The presence of water on a planet has always been assumed to be the first basic necessity for life elsewhere in the universe. This is why planets with water are always at the top of the list for scientists to study further in their search for Earth 2.0.

Exoplanets are primarily discovered in two ways.

The first is the transit method. This requires a telescope to study a star as the planet passes across its face. It causes a slight decrease in the brightness of stars as the shadows of the planets move across their face. This transit method also in addition to confirming the existence of the planet in the first place, this transit method also allows scientists to measure the diameter of the planet.

The second method for finding exoplanets is called radial velocity, in which the small gravitational pool of the planet on the star is measured. Again, scientists use this data to identify an exoplanet but also to find its mass.

With the diameter and mass of an exoplanet, astronomers can begin to unearth information about their components and what they might look like. Although this often occurs for individual exoplanets, this is a rare attempt to describe a group of exoplanets around similar stars.

The 43 exoplanets in question were assumed to be rocky, but dry. However, this research indicates that the water could be mixed with rocks or in pockets under the surface, just like Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is thought to contain an underground ocean.

Next for the researchers is to understand the internal structure of these potential “aquatic worlds,” which means knowing where the water is stored. It is hoped that one or more of these exoplanets can be proven to be a water world using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which was done last week Clouds discovered on an exoplanet for the first time.

“It is also fundamental to understand whether our finding also applies to groups of minor planets around other types of stars,” Loki said.

I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.