Extrasolar Planet's Missing Water Discovered
April 12, 2007 11:16 AM
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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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RE: more on the topic
4/13/2007 1:54:25 AM
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
4/13/2007 10:55:49 AM
> "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
, 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 enviroment....it 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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