Astronomers Unveil Extraordinary Discovery: First-Ever “Water Worlds” Discovered Amongst the Stars.

In a groundbreaking revelation, astronomers have ushered in a new era of exoplanet exploration by confirming the existence of two “water worlds” – Kepler-138c and Kepler-138d. These aquatic exoplanets challenge our understanding of planetary diversity and offer intriguing insights into the potential habitability of worlds vastly different from our own.

Unlocking the Mystery of Water Worlds: Water worlds are celestial bodies characterized by a substantial volume of water constituting the majority of their composition. Unlike Earth, where water clings to the surface as oceans and lakes, water worlds boast oceans that envelop the entire planet, extending deep into their cores. This distinction suggests unique geological, climatic, and biological conditions, potentially nurturing forms of life adapted to this distinct environment.

The newly discovered Kepler-138c and Kepler-138d reside in the cosmic neighborhood, orbiting Kepler-138, a red dwarf star residing approximately 218 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. These enigmatic exoplanets were initially spotted by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope in 2014. However, it wasn’t until further observations involving NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the retired Spitzer Space Telescope were utilized that the planets’ masses and compositions were deduced, thanks to the transit timing variations (TTV) method.

Both Kepler-138c and Kepler-138d stand at around 1.9 times the size of Earth, yet their density is only about half of our home planet’s. This significant difference in density points to their primary constituents being water, swathed by a thin layer of gas. The discovery showcases not just the existence of water worlds but also their prevalence, suggesting that approximately 35% of exoplanets larger than Earth could potentially fall into this category.

The revelation of these water worlds ignites hope in the quest for extraterrestrial life. Water, known as a cornerstone for life as we recognize it, takes on a new dimension in these aquatic realms. While challenges like extreme pressures, diminished light, and fluctuating temperatures pose difficulties, water worlds present a unique set of circumstances that could potentially host alien aquatic organisms.

The discovery of Kepler-138c and Kepler-138d poses a fundamental challenge to our current understanding of planet formation and evolution. These water worlds may have originated differently from rocky planets like Earth. One hypothesis suggests they formed farther from their host star, where water was abundant as ice, and then gradually migrated inwards over time. Alternatively, they might have originated closer to the star, accumulating water from comets or asteroids later in their development.

The unveiling of Kepler-138c and Kepler-138d stands as a testament to the collaborative power of combining multiple telescopes and innovative techniques. This milestone offers a tantalizing glimpse into the intricacies of far-off planetary systems, urging us to consider the myriad forms that life and habitability could assume throughout the galaxy.

Image: Captivating visualization depicting Kepler-138c and Kepler-138d, the “water worlds” orbiting Kepler-138, against the backdrop of the cosmic expanse.












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