Scientists have just discovered a new type of planet – “a steamy waterworld that is larger than Earth but smaller than Uranus."
From MSNBC, we read the headline “Hubble team detects a watery super-Earth enshrouded by thick atmosphere.” They discovered it about 2 years ago, and after some analysis, state “GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of,” since “A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.”
Of course this is a major development, since it has always been assumed that if another planet had water at any point, it was capable of creating and sustaining what we call “life.” They say this one is too hot to support “life as we know it,” but of course, there are many types of life that don’t conform to what the scientists believe to be “life as we know it.”
Scientists keep adjusting their judgments each time they find a new type of fish at depths never before explored that possess extraordinary qualities, or they find something in deep jungles they’ve never found before. Each step involves expanding their conception of “life as we know it.”
Someday they may even find “proof” that the Moon was the incubator for a type of life that now exists on Earth. That’s the way it was, if we are to accept what the “Secret Doctrine” proposes. And of course, that was translated from some of the most ancient records on the planet. So if once upon a time the Moon could have been able to sustain some form of life, why not a hot waterworld?
Here’s a bit from the story:
To date, astronomers have discovered more than 700 planets beyond our solar system, with about 2,300 more "candidates" awaiting confirmation by follow-up observations.
These are a diverse bunch. Astronomers have found one planet as light and airy as Styrofoam, for example, and another as dense as iron. They've discovered several alien worlds that orbit two suns, like Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine in the “Star Wars” films.
But GJ 1214b, which is located 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer), is something new altogether, researchers said.
This so-called " super-Earth” is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much as our home planet. It orbits a red-dwarf star at a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometers), giving it an estimated surface temperature of 446 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius) — too hot to host life as we know it.
GJ 1214b … appears to have much more water than Earth does, and much less rock. The alien planet's interior structure is likely quite different from that of our world.
”The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like 'hot ice' or 'superfluid water,' substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience," Berta said.
GJ 1214b probably formed farther out from its star, where water ice was plentiful, and then migrated in to its current location long ago. In the process, it would have experienced more Earth-like temperatures, but how long this benign phase lasted is unknown, researchers said.
While I never thought “Waterworld” with Kevin Costner was the truly great film it could have been, I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of planets with life that had extraordinarily different environments than ours. It seems that this planet, even though a bit hotter than ours, could very well have life forms that have adapted to that environment.
Welcome to space people who may come inside heated water suits to connect with us. It’s really not that much different than our space suits that are dry and oxygenated as we go to places also believed to be incapable of supporting “life as we know it.” Perhaps Aquaman was as much a dream of life on a distant waterworld as a comic book character on Earth?
Just another fascinating development in a mysterious and wonderful universe that keeps unfolding as we develop the means to see what’s already there….
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson