Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hubble Discovers a "Waterworld,"

The Hubble Space Telescope continues to do history making discoveries. Of late Hubble has brought us the extrasolar planet with the unimposing moniker GJ1214b a water world.

Now I suspect that at this moment you are thinking of the movie staring Kevin Costner  with the same title, but GJ1214b is a far cry from Costner's temperate world.  Hubble's waterworld atmosphere appears to  consist of more than 50% water!  The "surface" of the planet seems to be also mostly all water.  But that is as close as we are going to get to anything even close to human habitability.   Due to it's orbit, which is very close to the system's sun, the mean surface is apx. 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  At this point you have to be thinking liquid water at 450 degrees?!  Then think what an atmosphere that is thick with water and this would result in massive pressures at the surface, allowing water to remain in a "fluid" state.  The high pressures would form exotic materials like 'hot ice' or 'superfluid water.

So we have a planet with an atmosphere dense with super-heated steam, and on the surface thick viscous water possibly littered with huge  hot "icebergs"

Read complete IO9 article here  



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