An extrasolar world covered in water? (2023)

An extrasolar world covered in water? (1)

An international team of researchers led by Charles Cadieux, a Ph.D. student at the Université de Montréal and member of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx), has announced the discovery of TOI-1452 b, an exoplanet orbiting one of two small stars in a binary system located in the Draco constellation about 100 light-years from Earth.

The exoplanet is slightly greater in size and mass than Earth and is located at a distance from its star where its temperature would be neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on its surface. The astronomers believe it could be an "ocean planet," a planet completely covered by a thick layer of water, similar to some of Jupiter's and Saturn's moons.

In an article published today in The Astronomical Journal, Cadieux and his team describe the observations that elucidated the nature and characteristics of this unique exoplanet.

"I'm extremely proud of this discovery because it shows the high caliber of our researchers and instrumentation," said René Doyon, Université de Montréal Professor and Director of iREx and of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM). "It is thanks to the OMM, a special instrument designed in our labs called SPIRou, and an innovative analytic method developed by our research team that we were able to detect this one-of-a-kind exoplanet."

(Video) An extrasolar world covered in water?

It was NASA's space telescope TESS, which surveys the entire sky in search of planetary systems close to our own, that put the researchers on the trail of this exoplanet. Based on the TESS signal, which showed a slight decrease in brightness every 11 days, astronomers predicted a planet about 70% larger than Earth.

Charles Cadieux belongs to a group of astronomers that does ground follow-up observations of candidates identified by TESS in order to confirm their planet type and characteristics. He uses PESTO, a camera installed on the OMM's telescope that was developed by Université de Montréal Professor David Lafrenière and his Ph.D. student François-René Lachapelle.

"The OMM played a crucial role in confirming the nature of this signal and estimating the planet's radius," explained Cadieux. "This was no routine check. We had to make sure the signal detected by TESS was really caused by an exoplanet circling TOI-1452, the largest of the two stars in that binary system."

The host star TOI-1452 is much smaller than our Sun and is one of two stars of similar size in the binary system. The two stars orbit each other and are separated by such a small distance—97 astronomical units, or about two and a half times the distance between the Sun and Pluto—that the TESS telescope sees them as a single point of light. But PESTO's resolution is high enough to distinguish the two objects, and the images showed that the exoplanet does orbit TOI-1452, which was confirmed through subsequent observations by a Japanese team.

Ingenuity at work

To determine the planet's mass, the researchers then observed the system with SPIRou, an instrument installed on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawai'i. Designed in large part in Canada, SPIRou is ideal for studying low-mass stars such as TOI-1452 because it operates in the infrared spectrum, where these stars are brightest. Even then, it took more than 50 hours of observation to estimate the planet's mass, which is believed to be nearly five times that of Earth.

An extrasolar world covered in water? (2)
(Video) An Extrasolar World Covered in Water?

Researchers Étienne Artigau and Neil Cook, also with iREx at the Université de Montréal, played a key role in analyzing the data. They developed a powerful analytic method capable of detecting the planet in the data collected with SPIRou. "The LBL method [for line-by-line] allows us to clean the data obtained with SPIRou of many parasite signals and to reveal the weak signature of planets such as the one discovered by our team," explained Artigau.

The team also includes Quebec researchers Farbod Jahandar and Thomas Vandal, two Ph.D. students at the Université de Montréal. Jahandar analyzed the host star's composition, which is useful for constraining the planet's internal structure, while Vandal was involved in analyzing the data collected with SPIRou.

A watery world

The exoplanet TOI-1452 b is probably rocky like Earth, but its radius, mass, and density suggest a world very different from our own. Earth is essentially a very dry planet; even though we sometimes call it the Blue Planet because about 70% of its surface is covered by ocean, water actually only makes up a negligible fraction of its mass—less than 1%.

Water may be much more abundant on some exoplanets. In recent years, astronomers have identified and determined the radius and mass of many exoplanets with a size between that of Earth and Neptune (about 3.8 times larger than Earth). Some of these planets have a density that can only be explained if a large fraction of their mass is made up of lighter materials than those that make up the internal structure of the Earth such as water. These hypothetical worlds have been dubbed "ocean planets."

"TOI-1452 b is one of the best candidates for an ocean planet that we have found to date," said Cadieux. "Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than what one would expect for a planet that is basically made up of metal and rock, like Earth."

The University of Toronto's Mykhaylo Plotnykov and Diana Valencia are specialists in exoplanet interior modeling. Their analysis of TOI-1452 b shows that water may make up as much as 30% of its mass, a proportion similar to that of some natural satellites in our Solar System, such as Jupiter's moons Ganymede and Callisto, and Saturn's moons Titan and Enceladus.

(Video) An extrasolar world covered in water?

To be continued…

An exoplanet such as TOI-1452 b is a perfect candidate for further observation with the James Webb Space Telescope, or Webb for short. It is one of the few known temperate planets that exhibit characteristics consistent with an ocean planet. It is close enough to Earth that researchers can hope to study its atmosphere and test this hypothesis. And, in a stroke of good fortune, it is located in a region of the sky that the telescope can observe year round.

"Our observations with the Webb Telescope will be essential to better understanding TOI-1452 b," said Doyon who overviewed the conception of James Webb's component NIRISS. "As soon as we can, we will book time on Webb to observe this strange and wonderful world."

The article "TOI-1452 b: SPIRou and TESS reveal a super-Earth in a temperate orbit transiting an M4 dwarf" was published in August 12 2022 on The Astronomical Journal. In addition to Charles Cadieux, René Doyon, Étienne Artigau, Neil Cook, Farbod Jahandar and Thomas Vandal at the Université de Montréal's iREx, the research team includes Nicolas B. Cowan (iREx, MSI, McGill, Canada); Björn Benneke, Stefan Pelletier and Antoine Darveau-Bernier (iREx, UdeM, Canada); Ryan Cloutier, former member of iREx (Harvard, U.S.); and co-authors from University of Toronto, France, Brazil, the United States, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Hungary, Germany, and Crimea.

New rare 'hot sub-Neptune' exoplanet discovered

(Video) Water World Found? Just 100 Light Years Away! Prospects for Life Profound

More information:Charles Cadieux et al, TOI-1452 b: SPIRou and TESS Reveal a Super-Earth in a Temperate Orbit Transiting an M4 Dwarf, The Astronomical Journal (2022). DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/ac7cea

Journal information:Astronomical Journal

Provided byUniversity of Montreal

Citation: An extrasolar world covered in water? (2022, August 24) retrieved 2 September 2022 from

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Why is Earth the only planet with water? ›

In our solar system, Earth orbits around the sun in an area called the habitable zone. The temperature within this zone, along with an ample amount of atmospheric pressure, allow water to be liquid for long periods of time.

Is there another planet with water? ›

Oceans Beyond

Are there oceans on planets around other stars? Water vapor has been discovered on a planet roughly the size of Neptune; the smallest exoplanet known to have water. HAT-P-11b is 120 light years away in the constellation Cygnus and sits close to its star in a five-day orbit.

What planet is 100 light years away? ›

The new find comes just weeks after scientists announced the discovery of another "super-Earth" that could potentially support life, calling it a "water world." The exoplanet, named TOI-1452 b, orbits a red dwarf star that is also about 100 light years away from our planet, which scientists say is "fairly close."

How much water is in the Solar System? ›

Liquid water in the Solar System. As of December 2015, the confirmed liquid water in the Solar System outside Earth is 25–50 times the volume of Earth's water (1.3 billion km³), i.e. about 32.5-65 billion km³ and 3.25-6.5*10^19 tons of water.

Is Earth losing water? ›

Water flows endlessly between the ocean, atmosphere, and land. Earth's water is finite, meaning that the amount of water in, on, and above our planet does not increase or decrease.

What is the planet with the most water? ›

In order of how much liquid water each world is estimated to have (from least to most), the ranking is: Enceladus, Triton, Dione, Pluto, Earth, Europa, Callisto, Titan, and Ganymede.

Did a 17 year old find a new planet? ›

Meet the 17-year-old who discovered an alien planet: A Q&A with high school student Wolf Cukier. "I never expected it to get this big." 17-year-old high school student Wolf Cukier made a major discovery on the third day of his NASA internship, when he noticed the telltale signs of a distant planet orbiting two stars.

What is the name of the new planet discovered in 2022? ›

Six New Planets, Including Two Nearby Super-Earths

Read the Delrez et al. 2022 discovery paper and the University of Liège media release. This week's new planets are GJ 0896 A b, GJ 3090 b, HD 56414 b, LP 890-9 b & c (a.k.a. TOI-4306 b & c), and TOI-2048 b.

Where is the super-Earth? ›

Astronomers have discovered a 'super-Earth' orbiting a red dwarf star just 37 light-years from our solar system. The exoplanet Ross 508 b skims the so-called habitable zone of its parent star, the area in which surface temperatures are suitable to allow for the existence of liquid water, a key ingredient of life.

Where is the most water in solar system? ›

Ranking from least to most, the list includes: Enceladus, Triton, Dione, Pluto, Earth, with Europa, Callisto, Titan and Ganymede have the most liquid water by volume. Jupiter's moon Ganymede has 46%, and Europa has 16% liquid water by volume.

What percent of world is water? ›

About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water.

Where is water found in the solar system? ›

Like Earth, Mars also has polar water ice caps and underground ice deposits. There is also a trace amount of water in the atmosphere of Mars, sometimes seen as clouds. Mars used to have liquid water at the surface (at least occasionally) but much of that water is now trapped as ice or has been lost to space.

How do we know exoplanets have water? ›

Measuring the spectrum of light that shines through an exoplanet's atmosphere during transits can reveal the presence of water vapor or other telltale chemical signatures, such as methane or carbon dioxide.

Have we found any exoplanets with water? ›

Researchers in Canada have discovered an exoplanet—a planet orbiting another star—just 100 light-years from Earth that's probably covered in water.

What did NASA see in the ocean? ›

To their amazement, the scientists discovered vibrant ecosystems around the vents, teeming with marine organisms, such as translucent snailfish and amphipods, tiny flea-like crustaceans, that had never been seen before. "With this discovery, we [came across] a whole new way of living on Earth," says Shank.

Can we create water? ›

Yes, one can take Hydrogen and Oxygen and react them in appropriate conditions and form water vapor. This can then be condensed (by cooling) to liquid water. This is the best way to produce the most purified water that has no other ions that are normally present in water we know.

Will oceans dry up? ›

Don't worry. The oceans aren't going to dry up. At least not any time soon, so no need to add it to the list of things to worry about.

How much longer will Earth last? ›

The upshot: Earth has at least 1.5 billion years left to support life, the researchers report this month in Geophysical Research Letters. If humans last that long, Earth would be generally uncomfortable for them, but livable in some areas just below the polar regions, Wolf suggests.

Is there more water or air on Earth? ›

So there is 500+ times more water than air... and 4000+ times more "land" than water. Or in percents, the mass is: Land: 99.98% Water: 0.02%

Is space made of water? ›

We've known for a long time that there is water in space. But an international team of scientists has found a cloud of water vapor 12 billion light-years away – and it's bigger than you could possibly imagine.

How much water is in the air? ›

One estimate of the volume of water in the atmosphere at any one time is about 3,100 cubic miles (mi3) or 12,900 cubic kilometers (km3). That may sound like a lot, but it is only about 0.001 percent of the total Earth's water volume of about 332,500,000 mi3 (1,385,000,000 km3), as shown in the table below.

Are there pink planets? ›

Named GJ 504b, the planet is made of pink gas. It's similar to Jupiter, a giant gas planet in our own solar system. But GJ 504b is four times more massive.

Who is the youngest person to discover a planet? ›

British teen Tom Wagg was shuffling through some data at his school work experience when he thought he discovered a planet. Now, after two years of research, scientists have confirmed that the little blip Wagg discovered is actually a planet. He is now the youngest person to ever make such a discovery.

What planet is 6.9 times larger than Earth? ›

As per NASA. TOI 1338 b is 6.9 times larger than the Earth(In between the size of Neptune & Saturn) which is located in the Constellation Pictor about 1,300 Light-Year away from the Earth Surface.

Is there another Earth on the other side of the Sun? ›

Unfortunately, the forces of gravity conspire to make this hidden planet idea completely impossible. Most importantly, when someone tells you there's a hidden planet on the other side of the Sun, just remember these words: No.

How many planets exist? ›

There are eight planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

How many planets are in the Milky Way 2022? ›

NASA estimates that there are at least 100 billion planets in our Milky Way alone. Others estimated that the Milky Way galaxy might have anywhere between 100 to 200 billion planets. Currently, over 4,000 exoplanets have been discovered, and every day, more and more follow.

Can humans live on super-Earth? ›

Rocky planets larger than our own, so-called super-Earths, are surprisingly abundant in our Galaxy, and stand as the most likely planets to be habitable.

What is the real name of Earth? ›

It is a common misconception that “Terra” is the internationally-recognized scientific name of the planet, but in reality Earth does not have an official international name. The standard English name of the planet, including in science, is “Earth”.

What is diamond planet? ›

NASA has taken a closer look at 55 Cancri e, an exoplanet that earned the nickname "diamond planet" due to research that suggests it has a carbon-rich composition. Even if we could reach these diamond exoplanets, they wouldn't be appealing places to visit.

Does every planet in solar system have water? ›

Earth is the only planet in our Solar System that has stable bodies of liquid water on the surface. On any other planet (or moon, asteroid, etc.), liquid water would immediately evaporate or freeze.

Where is water found? ›

Earth's water is (almost) everywhere: above the Earth in the air and clouds, on the surface of the Earth in rivers, oceans, ice, plants, in living organisms, and inside the Earth in the top few miles of the ground.

Which moon has more water than Earth? ›

Jupiter's moon Ganymede is the largest moon — and the ninth-largest object — in the Solar System. It may hold more water than all of Earth's oceans, but temperatures there are so cold that water on the surface freezes and the ocean lies roughly 160 kilometers below the crust.

Do we have enough water? ›

Billions of People Lack Water

Clean freshwater is an essential ingredient for a healthy human life, but 1.1 billion people lack access to water and 2.7 billion experience water scarcity at least one month a year. By 2025, two-thirds of the world's population may be facing water shortages.

Who has the best water in the world? ›

Scandinavia and Finland

If you put them all together, it's clear that this region of the world is where one can find perhaps the cleanest and safest water flowing from taps. Just for good measure, Finland further filters its naturally clean water multiple times before it reaches the tap.

What is water made of? ›

A water molecule has three atoms: two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom. That's why water is sometimes referred to as H2O. A single drop of water contains billions of water molecules.

Where did water come from? ›

Far from the Sun, where temperatures are low, water formed icy objects such as comets, while closer to the Sun water reacted with rocky materials to form hydrated minerals. It's thought that the mostly likely way that planet Earth inherited its water was from asteroids and comets crashing into it.

How was water created in the universe? ›

Water is abundant in space and is made up of hydrogen created in the Big Bang and oxygen released from dying stars.

Is there water in the universe? ›

Abstract Water appears to be one of the most abundant molecules in the Universe. It dominates the environment of the Earth and is a main constituent of numerous planets, moons and comets.

How did the Earth get its water? ›

Far from the Sun, where temperatures are low, water formed icy objects such as comets, while closer to the Sun water reacted with rocky materials to form hydrated minerals. It's thought that the mostly likely way that planet Earth inherited its water was from asteroids and comets crashing into it.

How did Earth get its oceans? ›

The ocean formed billions of years ago.

Over vast periods of time, our primitive ocean formed. Water remained a gas until the Earth cooled below 212 degrees Fahrenheit . At this time, about 3.8 billion years ago, the water condensed into rain which filled the basins that we now know as our world ocean.

Where did all the water on Earth come from? ›

Multiple geochemical studies have concluded that asteroids are most likely the primary source of Earth's water. Carbonaceous chondrites–which are a subclass of the oldest meteorites in the Solar System–have isotopic levels most similar to ocean water.

Where did water come from in the universe? ›

Earth has vast oceans today, but our planet was a dry rock when it first formed — and water was a late addition, rained down in asteroids from the icy outer solar system.

How was Earth named? ›

Each is derived from a word meaning 'ground' or 'soil' (or sometimes 'universe' or 'creation'). For example, the modern English word 'Earth' derives from the Germanic 'erde', meaning 'ground'. The roots of such words all date from a time when humankind was unaware that Earth is actually a planet.

How old is the water we drink? ›

The water on our Earth today is the same water that's been here for nearly 5 billion years. So far, we haven't managed to create any new water, and just a tiny fraction of our water has managed to escape out into space. The only thing that changes is the form that water takes as it travels through the water cycle.

Why is the ocean blue? ›

The ocean is blue because water absorbs colors in the red part of the light spectrum. Like a filter, this leaves behind colors in the blue part of the light spectrum for us to see. The ocean may also take on green, red, or other hues as light bounces off of floating sediments and particles in the water.

How old is the Earth? ›

Earth is estimated to be 4.54 billion years old, plus or minus about 50 million years. Scientists have scoured the Earth searching for the oldest rocks to radiometrically date.

What was the first ocean on Earth called? ›

Pangea, also spelled Pangaea, in early geologic time, a supercontinent that incorporated almost all the landmasses on Earth. Pangea was surrounded by a global ocean called Panthalassa, and it was fully assembled by the Early Permian Epoch (some 299 million to about 273 million years ago).

Why is ocean water salty? ›

Ocean salt primarily comes from rocks on land and openings in the seafloor. Salt in the ocean comes from two sources: runoff from the land and openings in the seafloor. Rocks on land are the major source of salts dissolved in seawater. Rainwater that falls on land is slightly acidic, so it erodes rocks.

Was the world once covered in water? ›

Earth may have been a water world 3 billion years ago. Calculations show that Earth's oceans may have been 1 to 2 times bigger than previously thought and the planet may have been completely covered in water.

When was water first formed? ›

The study pushes back the clock on the origin of Earth's water by hundreds of millions of years, to around 4.6 billion years ago, when all the worlds of the inner solar system were still forming. Scientists had suspected that our planet formed dry, with high-energy impacts creating a molten surface on the infant Earth.

How much water is under the Earth? ›

One estimate of global water distribution
Water sourceWater volume, in cubic milesWater volume, in cubic kilometers
Oceans, Seas, & Bays321,000,0001,338,000,000
Ice caps, Glaciers, & Permanent Snow5,773,00024,064,000
10 more rows
13 Nov 2019

Is there water everywhere in universe? ›

But one of the most important discoveries of the last several decades of planetary science is that liquid water is extremely common, even outside of the orbit of a star that would allow for it on the surface of a planet or moon. It just happens to be covered by a sheet of ice.

How old is all the water on Earth? ›

A recent study estimated that there are water molecules on Earth that are up to 4.6 billion years old, which means they predate the formation of the Milky Way.

Is space made of water? ›

We've known for a long time that there is water in space. But an international team of scientists has found a cloud of water vapor 12 billion light-years away – and it's bigger than you could possibly imagine.


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