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Exoplanet Discovered with Organic Molecule Signature

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), developed jointly by NASA, ESA and CSA, made the discovery on exoplanet K2-18b, located 120 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo.

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K2-18b, with 8.6 times the mass of Earth, orbits the cool dwarf star K2-18. The planet is unique among celestial bodies and belongs to the “Sub-Neptune” category. But what makes this exoplanet especially interesting is that it lies within the so-called habitable zone of its star.

K2-18b could become one of the key objects for the search for life in the Universe. Research has shown that the planet may have a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and a surface covered with oceans.

However, the most surprising discovery comes from the detection of the molecule dimethyl sulfide (DMS) in the atmosphere of K2-18b. This molecule, produced only by living organisms on Earth, especially marine phytoplankton, has sparked intense debate in scientific circles.

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According to some researchers, the discovery of DMS on K2-18b may mean that organisms capable of producing this molecule exist on this planet.

“Our findings underscore the importance of considering diverse habitable environments in the search for life elsewhere,” explained Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge and lead author of the paper announcing these results.

“Traditionally, the search for life on exoplanets has focused primarily on smaller rocky planets, but the larger Hycean worlds are significantly more conducive to atmospheric observations.”

The abundance of methane and carbon dioxide, and shortage of ammonia, support the hypothesis that there also may be a water ocean underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere in K2-18 b.

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These initial Webb observations also provided a possible detection of a molecule called dimethyl sulfide (DMS). On Earth, this is only produced by life. The bulk of the DMS in Earth’s atmosphere is emitted from phytoplankton in marine environments.

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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, a website he created in 2013.