February 26, 2020

K2-18B – New Habitat?

This artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, it’s host star and an accompanying planet in this system. K2-18b is now the only super-Earth exoplanet known to host both water and temperatures that could support life. UCL researchers used archive data from 2016 and 2017 captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and developed open-source algorithms to analyze the starlight filtered through K2-18b’s atmosphere. The results revealed the molecular signature of water vapor, also indicating the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere.
By ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser – ESA/Hubble, CC BY 4.0, Link

A planet with water vapor in its atmosphere revolving around a small star which is less than half in size of our sun. The planet is named K2-18B and its star is K2-18.

The K2-18B is very much similar to our earth and scientists urge that it is possible to find life on this planet, the images of the planet taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope signifies this. The planet is about 110 light-years away from our earth.

The temperature is 10 Celcius and water content in its atmosphere is 0.01% – 50 %, this is a good sign as it is possible to find life in these atmospheric conditions.

Although the water content in the atmosphere makes it – “most possible planet to find life”, this does not mean that water content is present in its surface, say scientists from London University College in their Nature Astronomy Report.

The possibility of the existence of another life doesn’t mean that its habitat is suitable for humans. The mass of the planet is 2 times that of earth, this is the reason why the gravitational force of K-18B is very much larger than that of the earth.

The acceleration due to gravity can be derived from the formula

g = G*M/R^2
g=9.8m/s² (on earth’s surface)

Let the mass of Earth be M, then the approximate mass of K-18B is 2M, therefore acceleration due to gravity on K-18B’s surface is

g=G*2M/R^2=2*9.8m/s² = 19.6 m/s² (approx.) on K-18B’s surface.

The makes it clear that any mass on K-18B’s surface will weigh 2 times greater than that was on earth’s surface.

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