Scientists have shown that water is probably an important part of those exoplanets (planets around other stars) that are between two and four times the size of the Earth. It will have implications for the search for life in our Milky Way. The work will be presented at the Goldschmidt conference recently held in Boston.
A new evaluation of data from the exoplanet yacht Kepler Space Telescope and the Gaia mission indicates that many of the known planets can hold up to 50% water. This is much more than the water content of the earth of 0.02% (by weight). "It was a huge surprise to realize that there must be so many water worlds," said lead researcher Dr. ir. Li Zeng from the University of Harvard.
Scientists have discovered that many of the 4,000 confirmed or candidate exoplanets that have been discovered so far fall into two size categories: those with a planetary radius averaging 1.5 on that of the earth, and those with an average of 2.5 times the radius of the earth.
Now, after analyzing the exoplanets with mass measurements and recent radius measurements from the Gaia satellite, a group of international scientists has developed a model of their internal structure.