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No Water on other Planets?

Astronomers have looked for water on planets in other solar systems, and...

Astronomers have been checking out planets in other solar systems. Because it’s hard to see a planet near a bright star at a far distance, they’ve been able to discover planets in other solar systems because of the slight “wobble” of a sun (because of the gravitational connection between a planet and their sun) The sun with a planet orbiting it will move very slightly, because even though the planet is small in relation to the sun’s size, they do share a gravitational bond, and the planet will cause the sun to move ever-so-slightly. One thing they’ve been looking for when checking out these newly-discovered planets, is they’ve been trying to see if these is any water on them. You see, one of the clear signs that life (as we know it) could exist on a planet is if it has water on it; in our own solar system, the only planets that contain no traces of water are Mercury and Venus (my guess why is that if those planets ever had water, their proximity to the sun would make the water so how that it would evaporate and escape whatever atmosphere the planet has).
Well, astronauts have discovered a number of gas giant planets, but orbiting very close to the sun (versus in our solar system, where gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn are much farther away from the sun). Scientists have been studying two planets (two gas giants), whose orbits are closer to their sun star, and found no water on these planets. They can find out if there is water on these planets by studying the atmospheres of these gas giant planets. The two suns these planets orbit carry “hydrogen and oxygen, the stable building blocks of water. But these scientists used a light spectro to study the atmosphere of these planets (to determine the air’s composition on these planets), but these planets came up dry.
Seth Borenstein reported in an AP article (listed in the Naples Daily News, 02/22/07) that the 02/22/07 edition of Nature, and the online edition of the Astrophysical Journal Letters state that even after using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope for extra-solar planet research their lack of finding water on these planets, which seems like a wake up call to researchers like Carl Grillmair, the leader of the team researching this. Colleague and Harvard astronomy professor David Charbonneau noted that we shouldn’t be so “Earth-centric” when looking for information about new planets.




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