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Water Detected On a Planet Outside The Solar System

Update Date: Feb 27, 2014 09:27 AM EST

Water has been detected on a Jupiter-sized planet outside our solar system. An international team of astronomers detected water in the atmosphere of the planet named Tau Bootis B that is nearly identical to planet Jupiter. 

Researchers have developed a new technique that can help researchers to learn about other planets that are equipped with water like earth in the universe. 

"Planets like Tau Bootes b which are as massive as Jupiter but much hotter do not exist in our solar system. Our detection of water in the atmosphere of tau Bootis b is important because it helps us understand how these exotic hot-Jupiter planets form and evolve. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of our new technique, which detects the infrared radiation in the atmospheres of these planets," said Chad Bender, a research associate in the Penn State Department of Astronomy in the US, according to TOI.

Previously, scientists detected water vapor on other planets as well using the same technique. However, the developed technique only works if a planet has an orbit that passes it in front of its star when viewed from Earth. 

An another imaging technique that scientists used worked only if the planet is largely far away from the host star. However, large portions of the population of extra-solar planets do not fit in any of these criteria and so there had not been a way to discover information about the atmosphere surrounding these planets. 

"We now are applying our effective new infrared technique to several other non-transiting planets orbiting stars near the Sun," Bender added, according to TOI. "These planets are much closer to us than the nearest transiting planets, but largely have been ignored by astronomers because directly measuring their atmospheres with previously existing techniques was difficult or impossible."

The results have been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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