The exoplanet in question is located 124 light years away from Earth and orbits around a red dwarf in the habitable zone, i.e. in an area remote from the star at a distance that is optimal for liquid water to exist. The diameter of K2-18b is 2.6 times larger than Earth's, and the mass of the exoplanet exceeds 8.6 times that of Earth. While water vapor was found in K2-18b's atmosphere, it has not been confirmed that the exoplanet is rocky and not a gas mini-Neptune.
The new research reveals that even if K2-18b is a gas mini-Neptune, there may be life on it anyway. It was found that there was a large amount of hydrogen on the exoplanet, and the proportion of water vapor was 0.02-14.8 percent. There's also a small amount of ammonia and methane. The results of modeling show that the maximum proportion of hydrogen of the entire mass of the planet makes up only 6 percent, and the minimum - about a millionth part.
This means that the hydrogen shell of the planet does not create much pressure for the water ocean beneath it, if it exists at all, to reach supercritical density. In other words, this mini-Neptune can have a sufficiently large layer of liquid water in which life can be born.
They found a gas planet suitable for life
Astronomers at Cambridge University concluded that there could be an aquatic ocean on the K2-18b exoplanet and life-friendly conditions, Syons Alert reported.tags:
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