Since the dawn of time, scientists, philosophers, priests, political leaders, and even regular people had been asking themselves if we are alone in the Universe or not. And if aliens exist, how are they? Are they looking like little green men as we’ve all seen in the movies and cartoons, or are they just like us humans? Or do they have a completely unexpected appearance?
Before trying to guess how aliens look like, we should first know where to search for them. And now we have another great option: the exoplanet K2-18b, located not so far from us: ‘only’ 124 light-years.
It’s in the habitable zone
K2-18b is in the habitable zone, not too close to its host star (the K2-18 red dwarf), so that the water can be evaporated, and it’s also not too far away. But don’t open the champagne already! The fact that the planet is in the habitable zone doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the host to little purple men with three heads and cowboy hats, or to any kind of extraterrestrial life at all.
Astronomer Nikku Madhusudhan of Cambridge University explains it very well:
Water vapour has been detected in the atmospheres of a number of exoplanets but, even if the planet is in the habitable zone, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are habitable conditions on the surface,
To establish the prospects for habitability, it is important to obtain a unified understanding of the interior and atmospheric conditions on the planet – in particular, whether liquid water can exist beneath the atmosphere.
The researchers concluded that the atmosphere of K2-18b is rich in hydrogen, but with little amounts of methane and ammonia. However, researchers didn’t get solid proof that the planet is habitable, and they are waiting for further observations to be made.
The research was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. If, by any chance, you’re hiding an alien in your own basement, please tell us.