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The debate on whether or not Osiris has water in its atmosphere continues

A new analysis again suggests that gas giant HD209458b currently has water in its atmosphere.  The planet -- nicknamed Osiris -- is 150 light years away from Earth, located in the Pegasus constellation.  The planet was first detected in late November 1999, with the help of astronomical spectroscopy.  

The hot, Jupiter-like gaseous planet has been the target of research once scientists believed water could be located somewhere on the planet.  Three teams of scientists previously believed there could be water in the planet's atmosphere, but those ideas were questioned after the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope was unable to provide evidence.

Travis Bartman, an astronomer working at Lowell Observatory, believes he has discovered the missing water after analyzing the light from a star when it passes through HD209458b's atmosphere.

Barman and researchers from Harvard University measured the light coming from Osiris as it reached the furthest part of the 3.5-day orbit it makes around the star.  With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, it was possible to further study water absorption in the planet's atmosphere.  Each time the planet passes its parent star, it is possible to analyze how the atmosphere absorbs light passing from the star through the atmosphere.    

Scientists will continue to study and conduct research to either confirm or deny Barman's research.

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more on the topic
By Macuser89 on 4/12/2007 3:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
I think the reason why they want to find water on other planets, is to find life on other planets. Even if its just flesh eating bacteria. Pretty cool how they can detect water that far away though.

RE: more on the topic
By Goty on 4/12/2007 4:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
It's highly unlikely that a gas giant that's either orbiting close enough to a small star or orbiting a large enough star to have a 3.5 day orbit could support life. Temperatures would probably be high enough that nothing more than simple molecules could form.

We can always hope, though =P

RE: more on the topic
By constant on 4/12/2007 5:47:18 PM , Rating: 1
The reason we are so fascinated with finding water is because this is like looking at a huge crowd and recognizing someone. This will never happen, in the case of the universe, but for those who have no clue to begin with, it won't make any difference what they 'find' anyways.

RE: more on the topic
By aurareturn on 4/12/2007 7:49:54 PM , Rating: 4
Don't you people want to know what's other there besides Earth? Don't you want to see everything in the universe? Or know everything about the universe and how it works and how it all got started?

Do you want to know where you came from? Why you are here?

It's curiosity that drives human to explore. Every discovery, big or small, is a small step in understanding ourselves, and our planet, our universe.

I, for one, think that we don't have enough scientists and resources(money) studying space.

For those of you who have looked up a dark sky filled with stars, you know what I am talking about.

RE: more on the topic
By Ringold on 4/12/2007 8:04:55 PM , Rating: 3
Aura, you know what amuses me? Every 12-18 months, I'll read a bit of a book, check the latest articles in top magazines, even stick my nose in some bleeding-edge on-going research that I barely understand to get up to date on what the latest 'facts' and theories are. It amuses me because.. almost without fail, for years now, the universe and how we understand it changes in fairly large ways every 12-18 months.

When we can't even understand some of the basic things going on in the universe I'd say we still have lots of work to do.

Not to mention, that's pretty pessimistic to think we could point telescopes across the galaxy endlessly and not find something. Statistics suggest otherwise. Question is, will the first discovery be bacteria, a primitive civilization like ours, or something we nearly miss because their planet dumps so much energy we mistook it for a weird star.

Of course, statistics also suggest we'd have to be pretty lucky with current technology and funding, but that's not a reason to avoid trying.

Based on the few astronomers I've met I believe they're doing the most productive work that they could be doing with their lives anyway. Their near-insane love and dedication for their work likely wouldn't be replicated if their field didn't exist or had no funding and they had to work in something more (to them) mundane. In fact, I suspect at least a couple of them I know would've got English majors and just been stay at home moms if not for Astronomy. They're doing good work.

RE: more on the topic
By trex1000 on 4/12/2007 8:14:23 PM , Rating: 3
The thing I most love about science is the fact that we humans are constantly finding out that there is more to the universe than we thought posible. Scientists once believed that they had found the only formula which supported life. This formula was based on the fact that sunlight was the main crucial component of life. Then something happened. A whole ecosystem was discovered at the furthest depths of the oceans devoid of all sunlight and fueled by chemosynthesis. This changed the way how the science community looked at life when considering the possibilities of its creation. Water is now considered to be the only crucial component needed to support life. Once humans begin to explore the galaxy a little better we will most likely find that there are other formulas which support life which may not even include water. The key component for life is enegry, and there are many ways to extract energy without the need for water. And if this is true, there are many equations in where excessive heat and preasure may be crucial to life. If we use our most powerful tool, the imagination, we can find this to be practical.

RE: more on the topic
By masher2 on 4/12/2007 9:27:54 PM , Rating: 3
> "Water is now considered to be the only crucial component needed to support life."

Many scientists are far more open than this....the possibility of live evolving without water is certainly possible. Silicon-based life, for instance...which was first theorized by a scientist over 100 years ago.

RE: more on the topic
By derwin on 4/13/2007 1:54:25 AM , Rating: 5
the presence of water has nothing to do with carbon or silicone based life. The presence of water merely creates an environment much, much more stable for life to form in, increasing its probability greatly. For simple life molecules to form into larger living oranisms, they need nearly stable temperatures and a form of locomotion. Water spreads out heat so that changes in temperatures on a planet occur slowest in the largest bodies of water (kinda like our oceans) and the fluid motion of water provides a locomotion for these molecules which otherwise could not propel themselves to interact with other life like molecules. The other great benefit of water is that since most basic life molecules are hydrophobic (ie, they are repeled by water, like oil is), it causes all the life molecules to concentrate themselves together (like drops of oil in water), increasing their chances of encountering whatever other life molecules they might need to encounter to survive. Of course this could occur with out water, but water is a very good way to accomplish those three (and other) things which help the growth of life like molecules.

RE: more on the topic
By masher2 on 4/13/2007 10:55:49 AM , Rating: 3
> "the presence of water has nothing to do with carbon or silicone based life"

Untrue. Water is hugely important in the development of carbon-based life. But in silicon biochemistry it plays a much smaller part. For instance, let's look at the benefits you list. Water provides temperature averaging...from 0-100C, at least. That's also the most chemically active range for carbon-based compounds. But the temperature range for silicon is far wider....and long-chain silicon molecules are stable at much higher temperatures.

How about the fact that most "basic life molecules" in the carbon chain are hydrophobic? True...but the basic building blocks of the carbon cycle (CO2 and oxygen) are hydrophillic, and thus water disperses them freely, both providing them to and dispersing them from organisms within it. But most silicon-based analogues to these (such as silicon dioxide) are hydrophobic as well, which means a "silicon cycle" could never develop within an aqueous would need some other agent.

This is why worlds without water are (so we think) unlikely to develop carbon-based life. But silicon-based life? If its possible at all, its very possible without water.

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