Scientists Detect Water On Exoplanet, Opening New Chapter In Search For Alien Life
How many alien worlds have water, and do any host extraterrestrial life? No answers to those questions just yet. But astronomers using a new infrared technique say they've discovered water vapor in the atmosphere of a nearby gas giant planet called "tau Boötis b."
The finding suggests that the technique may play an important role in identifying which exoplanets might be hospitable for life.
"By developing new techniques that examine the atmospheres of these planets in infrared light, it's becoming possible to examine many other worlds for water vapor in their atmospheres," Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., told The Huffington Post in an email.
"That would clue us in to how common it is for planets to have oceans, where chemicals can slosh around, meet up, and maybe, just maybe, produce some biology. Looking for water on exoplanets is the next step in learning whether life is unusual or as common as crabgrass."