Water worlds

All About Space - - Contents -

They're abun­dant in our gal­axy, but are they really the best place to look for life?

re­ported by lee Cavendish mag­ine a world cov­ered en­tirely in water – no land separat­ing vast oceans. A re­cent dis­cov­ery an­nounced at the Gold­schmidt Con­fer­ence in Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts, United States, has found that these ‘water worlds’ are more com­mon than pre­vi­ously thought. This dis­cov­ery comes cour­tesy of data col­lected by two very dili­gent mis­sions that have stud­ied the cos­mos for years now – the Euro­pean Space Agency’s Gaia and NASA’s Ke­pler. Of the 4,000 con­firmed or can­di­date ex­o­plan­ets, 35 per cent were found to be water worlds.The first dis­cov­ery of ex­o­plan­ets was an­nounced in 1992 with the plan­ets PSR B1257+12c and 12d.They were found to be or­bit­ing a pul­sar 2,300 light years away in the con­stel­la­tion of Virgo. A third planet, PSR B1257+12b, was found or­bit­ing the same pul­sar in 1994. Over two decades later the search for ex­o­plan­ets con­tin­ues, with new dis­cov­er­ies

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