Scientists have shown that water is likely to be a major component of those exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) which are between two to four times the size of Earth…
Hopefully atmosphere observations in the future — of thick steam atmospheres — can support or refute the new findings. Goldschmidt Conference
Many of these detected exoplanets are larger than Earth, but it sounds like a lot of that extra mass is water – up to 50% of the planet’s weight, while water on Earth is only 0.02%. Our watery blue world is a desert in comparison.
It makes me wonder… if our Sun had more heavy elements, would Earth be larger? Would it have captured more of the solar system’s water? Would you and I be fish?
We have earlier generations of stars to thank for any watery world including our own. Hydrogen is, of course, everywhere – the most abundant element starting from the Big Bang. But heavier elements owe their existance to fusion within stars and subsequent nova and supernova explosions. That includes oxygen. So water seems to be common in the galaxy.
Stars wobble in our telescopes,
And from such tiny signals
Their planets do emerge.
Thousands of stars host planets,
Giants of swirling gas,
And some that seem more earthly
In their orbits and their mass.
But each of these is distant,
Lifetimes away for certain.
How ever will we know if
There’s life upon the surface?
Light filters through their atmospheres,
When atmospheres they own.
Molecules split spectra
Into patterns that are known.
Life creates imbalances,
However strange to see,
Points to biology.
And so we have a protocol
As we gather specks of light,
Photons that passed through planets’ air
On their interstellar flight…
Will tell us if there’s oxygen,
Or methane, CO2,
Water vapor, nitrogen,
Or ozone in the brew.
And tease us with the knowledge
That, beyond our current grasp,
Creation may have left its mark,
A hand we’ll never clasp.
Inspired by an article from the latimes