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A probable “planet-ocean” observed 100 light years from Earth

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A probable “planet-ocean” observed 100 light years from Earth
Written by madishthestylebar

It would thus be completely covered with a thick layer of water. If we know that liquid water is essential for the development of life, it is far too early to comment on the potential presence of life on this exoplanet.

TOI-1452 b is an exoplanet in orbit around one of the two stars of a binary system located in the constellation of the Dragon, 100 light years from Earth. Observed by researchers from the University of Montreal, it could be what is called a “planet-ocean”. It would thus be completely covered with a thick layer of water, according to the first information from a study published in the Astrophysical Journal.

“It is at a distance from its star that allows it to maintain a temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on its surface,” notes the Institute for Research on Exoplanets in a press release.

A giant and deep ocean

If the Earth is often nicknamed the “blue planet”, because the oceans cover 70% of its surface, it is a particularly arid planet. In fact, water only has 1% of its mass. Conversely, in the case of TOI-1452 b, research shows that it is largely composed of something less dense than rock, but denser than gas: a sign of ocean potential. Indeed, the fraction of the liquid water mass of the exoplanet would reach 30%.

“TOI-1452 b is one of the best candidates for a planet-ocean that we have found to date”, rejoices Charles Cadieux, doctoral student in astrophysics from the University of Montreal.

Artistic representation of the surface of the exoplanet TOI-1452 b, which is possibly entirely covered by a thick layer of liquid water.
Artistic representation of the surface of the exoplanet TOI-1452 b, which is possibly entirely covered by a thick layer of liquid water. © Benoit Gougeon – University of Montreal

“Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than would be expected for a planet mostly composed of metal and rock, like Earth,” he continues.

It would thus be a giant and above all deep ocean. Therefore, TOI-1452 b would be rather similar to some natural satellites of the solar system like Ganymede and Callisto, moons of Jupiter, or Titan and Enceladus, moons of Saturn.

Signs of life?

Could there be life on this planet? “It’s too early to answer this question, but we know that liquid water is essential for the development of life”, answers René Doyon, director of the Institute for research on exoplanets, in the Journal de Montreal.

Now, more in-depth observations are needed. And TOI-1452 b represents a prime target for NASA’s James-Webb Space Telescope. “Observations with Webb will be essential to better determine more precisely the nature of TOI-1452 b. As soon as we can, we will request time to observe this strange planet”, concludes René Doyon.

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