Study Says “Water Worlds” Are More Common in Space Than Previously Thought

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Study Says "Water Worlds" Are More Common in Space Than Previously Thought

According to recent research, more planets were previously believed to contain a lot of water on them. But according to the findings, the water on these planets may be entrenched in their rocks rather than flowing as seas or rivers on the surface. A population-level examination of a collection of planets that may be observed around an M-dwarf star was done in the study, which was carried out by worldwide specialists and published in the journal Science. The most frequently seen stars in our galaxy are dwarf planets, and several planets have been found to orbit them.
“It was a surprise to see evidence for so many of these theories,” said Rafael Luque, the first author of the new work and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago, said, “It was a surprise to see evidence for so many water worlds orbiting the most common type of star in the galaxy.”

It has significant implications for the hunt for habitable planets, the researcher continued.

These findings are now possible thanks to developments in creating more powerful telescopes. Similar to how looking at an entire town’s population might show trends that are difficult to discern at an individual level, these “eyes in the skies” collect a bigger sample size that helps scientists uncover demographic patterns.

Individual planets had undergone examinations using the most recent equipment and methods. Still, it had been considerably less common to do so for the whole known population of such planets in the Milky Way galaxy. The scientists saw a startling pattern developing as they studied the data—43 planets.

Many of the planets’ densities indicated that they were too light to be entirely composed of rock because of their size. Instead, these planets are most likely made up of a mixture of water or another more delicate molecule and rock. The researchers said a bowling ball and a soccer ball are about the same size, but one is composed of a considerably lighter substance.

These planets are so near to their suns, though, that any surface water would be in a supercritical gaseous phase, increasing the radius of the planets. However, Luque said, “We don’t see it in the samples.” That implies that the water is not an ocean’s surface.

Instead, the water can be present in pockets below the surface or incorporated with the rock. In those circumstances, the moon Europa of Jupiter, which is assumed to have liquid water beneath, would be comparable.

Jacob Bean, an exoplanet scientist at the University of Chicago, remarked, “I was astonished when I read this research – I and a lot of others in the field believed they were all dry, stony worlds.” Mr. Luque has collaborated with his team to do more research.

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