Space. A probable “sea” planet has been discovered: what you need to know

Scientists have discovered a planet that could be completely covered in water. – Illustrative photo: this photo does not represent TOI 1452b. (©mozZz / Adobe Stock)

“We are still living in a wonderful time with the discovery of all these curiosities”, Gilles Dawidowicz, vice-president of the Astronomical Society of France and chairman of the Commission for Planetology, exclaims on the phone.

After the James Webb telescope observed an exoplanet whose atmosphere is partly made up of CO2 and we could see a planet in the shape of a rugby ball, this time it was Canadian researchers from the University of Montreal and the Institute for Research on Exoplanets who have uncovered a the planet they believe to be completely covered with water.

“Unheard of in these proportions, whether in our solar system or anywhere else,” the vice president says.

A mass consisting of between 20 and 30% water. Earth is 1%

Located in the constellation Dragon, at 100 light yearsor 950,000 billion kilometers from our good old Earth, the mass of this planet with the beautiful temporary name TOI-1452bwould, according to Charles Cadieux, be one of the discoverers, composed of water in Dantesque proportions: between 20 and 30%.

By comparison, the mass of our blue planet, 72% covered in water, consists of barely 1% H2O.

Exoplanet TOI-1452 b may be rocky like Earth, but its radius, mass and density suggest it would be a very different world from ours.

Charles CadieuxPhD student at the University of Montreal and member of the Institute for Research in Exoplanets,

Slightly larger and more massive than Earth (about 70% larger and 5 times more massive), according to Charles Cadieux, this exoplanet has a sun, called TOI-1452. This one, smaller than ours, would heat it “in temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cold”.

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“If we assume that the atmosphere of this exoplanet is similar to ours and that it is indeed water, then that would mean that it is between 0 and 100 degrees”says Gilles Dawidowicz.

Is there a tidal phenomenon like in the movie Interstellar ?

However, it is not known whether one or more moons are present and exerting a tidal phenomenon on TOI-1452 b.

If so, maybe huge tides, like the ones in the movie Interstellar, takes place on this exoplanet. But this is pretty amazing at the moment because it’s impossible to confirm.

And of life?

Again, impossible to answer. “Having water does not necessarily mean that there is life,” says Gilles Dawidowicz.

Although we suspect it is water, it could be very salty, radioactive and therefore sterile…

Gilles DawidowiczVice-President of the Astronomical Society of France

On the other hand, one can well imagine whether there was or will be of life there. “Nothing is impossible,” he recalls.

Many questions that James Webb can answer

For now, only the fact that this exoplanet is covered in a liquid is certain. “It could very well be a completely different liquid, and that would change everything,” notes the president of the Commission for Planetology.

Similarly, if we realize that the atmosphere is not at all the same as on Earth, then it would change a lot of things, especially at the temperature “On top of Everest, water boils at 60°C,” he recalls.

But this information, the James Webb telescope, which has just taken magnificent pictures of Jupiter, is able to give it to us. “This will get the attention of astronomers who want to know more. In the coming weeks we should learn more,” he explains.

And then, as a reminder, there are billions of exoplanets. Maybe one day we will find sunless, huge asteroids, very special shapes… So many things remain to be discovered. We look forward.

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