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Exoplanet covered by a boiling ocean has been discovered

Several dozen light years from Earth, scientists have discovered an unusual exoplanet completely covered in water. However, this water world is far from what we see on Earth.

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Its ocean boils like a pot of water, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees Celsius and above. The research results were published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Exoplanet TOI-270 d was discovered using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Analysis of data obtained by the telescope showed that the atmosphere of TOI-270 d contains large amounts of methane and carbon dioxide, but not ammonia.

The absence of ammonia is a key indicator of the presence of an ocean at TOI-270 d. Chemistry shows that ammonia must be present in an atmosphere rich in hydrogen. But its ability to dissolve in water means that there will be less of it in the atmosphere.

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“This discovery is part of several JWST GO programs carried out jointly by NIRSpec, NIRISS and MIRI instruments,” said Professor Nikku Madhusudhan, who carried out the data analysis.

In addition to water, scientists also found signs of carbon disulfide in the atmosphere of TOI-270 d, which is associated with biological processes on Earth. However, the researchers emphasize that when assessing the possibility of the existence of life on TOI-270 d, one should not rush to conclusions.

“Further observations are needed to refine our understanding of the atmosphere and the likelihood of an ocean in TOI-270d,” said one scientist not involved in the study.

TOI-270 d is located approximately 70 light-years from Earth and has a striking temperature contrast. The planet is blocked by gravity: one side of it is constantly facing its star, and the other is immersed in endless darkness. An extremely hot ocean has been discovered on the day side; more habitable conditions may exist on the night side.

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“Ocean temperatures can reach 100 degrees Celsius or higher,” Madhusudhan said. “At high atmospheric pressure, such a hot ocean could still exist in a liquid state, although it is unclear whether it would be habitable.”

The discovery of TOI-270 d allows us to take a different look at exoplanets and assess the habitability potential of such planets outside the Solar System. This is a great opportunity for scientists to study distant worlds that are very different from ours, but may harbor life.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of anomalien.com, a website he created in 2013.