A nearby alien planet six times the size of the Earth is covered with a water-rich atmosphere that includes a strange “plasma form” of water, scientists say.
Image: An artist’s rendition of Gliese 1214 b traveling in front of its star, shown in blue light. Credit: NAO
Astronomers have determined that the atmosphere of super-Earth Gliese 1214 b is likely water-rich. However, this exoplanet is no Earth twin. The high temperature and density of the planet give it an atmosphere that differs dramatically from Earth.
"As the temperature and pressure are so high, water is not in a usual form (vapor, liquid, or solid), but in an ionic or plasma form at the bottom the atmosphere — namely the interior — of Gliese 1214 b," principle investigator Norio Narita of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan told SPACE.com by email.
Rarely do I love the universe more than when it looks at Doctor Who and goes “pfft please we can do better than that.”