Huge announcement today for people interested in astro-biology:
“Astronomers have detected water in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system for the first time.
The finding, to be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal, confirms previous theories that say water vapor should be present in the atmospheres of nearly all the known extrasolar planets. Even hot Jupiters, gaseous planets that orbit closer to their stars than Mercury to our Sun, are thought to have water.
The discovery, announced today, means one of the most crucial elements for life as we know it can exist around planets orbiting other stars.”
This is big because it can start to give us a handle on determining the number of planets we can expect to orbit in the “life zone” that surrounds a star. (The life zone is the region that would allow liquid water to exist on the surface of a planet. Too close to the star and the surface temp on the planet is too hot for liquid water, too far and the temp. is too cold. The life zone in our solar system extends from just outside the orbit of Venus to just about the orbit of Mars.)
This has implications for astro-biology because the existence of a liquid solvent on the surface of a planet is thought to be a necessary prerequisite for evolutionary processes to begin. And because everywhere on Earth where there is liquid water, there is life. Even in a fully enclosed water bubble in a glacier…
The need to determine the number of planets that we expect to find in the life zone is one of the parameters that gets put into the Drake Equation – which in turn can tell us how likely we are to find other lifeforms in the Galaxy. (Specifically the ne parameter in the equation.)
From a theological viewpoint – this gets interesting because one wonders if there should be sentient life forms on other planets, did they participate in the “fall of creation” or not? If so, have they experienced Jesus incarnated among them?
And of course, what if they are DNA based life? Does that indicate that we and/or they evolved somewhere other than where we are presently found?
Read the rest here: SPACE.com — BREAKING NEWS: Water Found in Extrasolar Planet’s Atmosphere