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Space Science

Astronomers Confirm a Hot and Steamy Exoplanet 66

The Bad Astronomer writes "The extrasolar planet GJ 1214b was discovered in 2009 orbiting a nearby (40 light year distant) red dwarf star. The planet was quickly found to have a thick atmosphere, but it wasn't known at the time if the composition was water vapor or a hazy shroud of particulates. New Hubble observations confirm the atmosphere of the exoplanet is rich in water, comprising up to 50% of the atmosphere's mass (PDF). At 230 degrees Celsius, this means the planet is shrouded in steam."
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Astronomers Confirm a Hot and Steamy Exoplanet

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  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @09:43AM (#39123783)

    Cool picture, but true water worlds are unlikely to have any true land (i.e., rocks at the surface). What they may have are mats of carbon materials too light to sink. On water worlds with biology, creatures may evolve to form such mats in symbiosis with air breathing animals (i.e., giving them a place to live, in return for goodies like nitrogen fixation from the atmosphere in their excretions), in much the same way as corals (the creatures that build coral reefs) get up to 90% of their nutrients from their symbionts [wikipedia.org].

    Now, that would be a water world Kevin Costner could be proud of.

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