Astronomers find surprising ice world in the habitable zone with JWST data

By Jurassic JennJul 10, 2024 08:23 AMScience
Share:
Astronomers find surprising ice world in the habitable zone with JWST data
Astronomers find surprising ice world in the habitable zone with JWST data. Source: https://www.space.com/

A surprising ice-world exoplanet within the habitable zone has been discovered by astronomers using data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The planet, called LHS 1140 b, is a super-Earth, potentially consisting of ice or water. It is situated about 48 light-years away in the constellation Cetus, and is considered one of the most promising candidates for supporting life due to its location within the habitable zone and its potential for harboring an atmosphere and liquid water oceans. The findings, led by Université de Montréal, were recently accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The analysis of LHS 1140 b's atmosphere was a significant achievement due to its rocky or ice-rich composition, which makes detecting atmospheres more challenging compared to gas giants. Ryan MacDonald, a NASA Sagan Fellow in the U-M Department of Astronomy, who played a key role in the analysis, expressed his excitement about detecting an atmosphere on a potentially habitable exoplanet for the first time.

LHS 1140 b revolves around a low-mass red dwarf star, smaller than our Sun, and is one of the closest exoplanets discovered within the habitable zone of its star system. The habitable zone refers to a range where temperatures permit liquid water to exist, a crucial ingredient for life as we know it. Determining whether the exoplanet was a mini-Neptune or a super-Earth was a crucial question for scientists. The recent findings strongly suggest that LHS 1140 b is a super-Earth, adding to the excitement surrounding its potential habitability.

With the inclusion of JWST data, observations strongly indicate that LHS 1140 b is less dense than expected for a rocky planet and may contain a significant amount of water, up to 20% of its mass. The planet might resemble a snowball or ice planet, with a potential sub-stellar point liquid ocean due to its synchronous rotation. Although the presence of a nitrogen-rich atmosphere has yet to be confirmed by additional JWST observations, Ryan MacDonald's atmospheric analysis suggests the planet could support an atmosphere similar to Earth's nitrogen-rich composition. This discovery further supports the theory of LHS 1140 b being a captivating water world.

The potential presence of an atmosphere and the favorable conditions for liquid water make LHS 1140 b an exceptional candidate for future habitability studies. With its positioning in the habitable zone and the likelihood of a stable climate, researchers have an exciting opportunity to explore a world that could potentially support life. The relatively calm and less active nature of the star LHS 1140 also contributes to the feasibility of studying LHS 1140 b's atmosphere without interference from stellar signals caused by starspots.

As we eagerly anticipate more JWST observations to confirm the nitrogen-rich atmosphere and to search for other gases, these preliminary findings serve as a promising start in understanding the atmospheric makeup and habitability of LHS 1140 b. Future studies focused on this intriguing exoplanet will shed more light on the potential for life beyond our solar system.

Top Articles
Why ringing in the ears - spiritual meaning

Spiritual meaning of ringing in the left and right ear

Jul 24, 2024 17:39 PM
White-headed eagle - meaning

The significance of meeting a bald eagle in spiritual sense: symbolism of the bird

Jul 24, 2024 12:16 PM

Meaning of the name Mia in spiritual meaning. What do the letters hide?

Jul 24, 2024 10:13 AM

What does it mean to meet a black cat? Spiritual meaning and symbolism

Jul 23, 2024 18:35 PM
More News
Three zodiac signs may experience a heightened focus on their social interactions and friendships: horoscope for the end of July

Three zodiac signs may experience a heightened focus on their social interactions and friendships: horoscope for the end of July

Jul 25, 2024 14:29 PM
'Dark Oxygen' Discovered on Ocean Floor May Reshape Our Understanding of Life Origin

'Dark Oxygen' Discovered on Ocean Floor May Reshape Our Understanding of Life Origin

Jul 25, 2024 14:09 PM

Record-Breaking Nigerian Dancer Raises Mental Health Awareness through Twerking

Jul 25, 2024 13:47 PM

Prince William's Annual Salary Revealed After Inheriting Duchy of Cornwall

Jul 25, 2024 13:27 PM
Stonehenge

UN cultural agency rejects plan to place Britain's Stonehenge on list of heritage sites in danger

Jul 25, 2024 13:25 PM
Elon Musk launches poll asking if Tesla should invest $5 billion in xAI

Elon Musk launches poll asking if Tesla should invest $5 billion in xAI

Jul 25, 2024 13:04 PM
Try to find the hidden cat in this picture to challenge your IQ

Try to find the hidden cat in this picture to challenge your IQ

Jul 25, 2024 12:44 PM
How to Evaluate the Quality of Pasta

How to Evaluate the Quality of Pasta

Jul 25, 2024 12:21 PM
The spiritual efforts of these three zodiac signs will lead to deep transformations

The spiritual efforts of these three zodiac signs will lead to deep transformations

Jul 25, 2024 12:05 PM

UEFA Charges Morata and Rodri for 'Gibraltar is Spanish' Chant

Jul 25, 2024 11:38 AM

Three zodiac signs should engage in relaxation techniques: horoscope for July 25

Jul 25, 2024 11:17 AM
Positive energy and unforeseen experiences for three zodiac signs: horoscope for July 26

Positive energy and unforeseen experiences for three zodiac signs: horoscope for July 26

Jul 25, 2024 11:17 AM
Three zodiac signs may experience stability and security in their love and relationships: horoscope for the end of July

Three zodiac signs may experience stability and security in their love and relationships: horoscope for the end of July

Jul 25, 2024 10:56 AM
Bug in CrowdStrike Quality Control Process Results in Disastrous Software Update

Bug in CrowdStrike Quality Control Process Results in Disastrous Software Update

Jul 25, 2024 10:34 AM
Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe

Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe

Jul 25, 2024 10:13 AM

Three zodiac signs expect a day filled with joy: horoscope for July 25

Jul 25, 2024 09:51 AM

Northern Lights Expected in the UK This Week Amid Upcoming 'Moderate' Geomagnetic Storm

Jul 25, 2024 09:34 AM
Three zodiac signs will feel empathy towards others: horoscope for July 25

Three zodiac signs will feel empathy towards others: horoscope for July 25

Jul 25, 2024 09:08 AM
Hailey Bieber Opens Up About Pregnancy and Marriage with Justin Bieber

Hailey Bieber Opens Up About Pregnancy and Marriage with Justin Bieber

Jul 25, 2024 08:49 AM
 Enzo Fernandez

"No problems" anticipated for Fernandez's inclusion in Chelsea tour

Jul 25, 2024 08:26 AM
These three zodiac signs may find their significant other until the end of the year

These three zodiac signs may find their significant other until the end of the year

Jul 25, 2024 08:06 AM
'The Heaviest' Element May Appear on the Periodic Table as Scientists Complete Crucial Step

'The Heaviest' Element May Appear on the Periodic Table as Scientists Complete Crucial Step

Jul 25, 2024 07:44 AM

Three zodiac signs may experience unique shifts in their familial relationships: horoscope for the end of July

Jul 25, 2024 07:22 AM

Three zodiac signs will find themselves highly sensitive: horoscope for July 25

Jul 25, 2024 07:03 AM
How to bake chicken breasts correctly

How to bake chicken breasts correctly

Jul 24, 2024 21:37 PM
Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar withdraws from Olympics due to fatigue

Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar withdraws from Olympics due to fatigue

Jul 24, 2024 20:56 PM