By means of Martin Leduc
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“We still live in a wonderful time with the discovery of all these curiosities”, exclaimed on the phone Gilles Dawidowicz, vice-president of the Astronomical Society of France and president of the planetology commission.
After the James Webb telescope observed an exoplanet whose atmosphere is partly composed of CO2, and we saw a planet shaped like a rugby ball, this time it was Canadian scientists from the University of Montreal and the Institute for Research on Exoplanets. , who unearthed a planet they believed to be completely covered with water.
“It’s unheard of in these proportions, either in our solar system or anywhere else,” the vice-president said.
A mass composed of between 20 and 30% water. Land is 1%
Located in the constellation Dragon, in 100 light yearsor 950,000 billion kilometers from our good old Earth, the mass of this planet with the relatively temporary name of TOI-1452bcan be, according to Charles Cadieux, one of the discoverers, composed of water in dantesque proportions: between 20 and 30%.
By way of comparison, the mass of our blue planet, 72% covered in water, is composed of about 1% H2O.
Exoplanet TOI-1452 b may be as rocky as Earth, but its radius, mass and density suggest it is a very different world than ours.
pretty bigger and bigger than Earth (about 70% larger and 5 times larger), according to Charles Cadieux, this exoplanet has a sun, called TOI-1452. This one, which is smaller than ours, will keep it warm “at temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cold”.
“If we assume that the atmosphere of this exoplanet is similar to ours, and it is actually water, then that means that it is between 0 and 100 degrees”said Gilles Dawidowicz.
Is there a tidal phenomenon like in the movie Interstellar ?
It is not known, however, if there are one or more moons and apply a tidal phenomenon to TOI-1452 b.
If so, maybe big currents, like in the movie Interstellar, takes place on this exoplanet. But this is very strange at the moment, because it is impossible to prove it.
And in life?
Again, impossible to answer. “Having water does not mean having life,” said Gilles Dawidowicz.
Even if we suspect that it is water, it may be very salty, radioactive, and therefore sterile…
On the other hand, one can imagine a lot if there is or will be in life there. “Nothing is impossible,” he recalled.
Lots of questions for James Webb to answer
For now, the fact that this exoplanet is covered in a liquid is certain. “It will be a very different liquid, and that will change everything,” said the president of the Commission of Planetology.
In the same line, if we know that the atmosphere is not the same as the Earth, then that will change many things, especially. in temperature “At the top of Everest, water boils at 60°C,” he recalled.
But this information, the James Webb telescope, which recently took beautiful pictures of Jupiter, can give it to us. “It will get the attention of astronomers, who want to know more. In the coming weeks, we should know more,” he explained.
And then, as a reminder, there are billions of exoplanets. Maybe one day we will find sunless ones, big asteroids, particular shapes… So many things remain to be discovered. We look forward.
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