Friday, February 24, 2012

Reason #140: You Had Me At "Hot Ice"

It had to happen eventually.

Now that the existence of liquid water on other planets is known to be not that huge of a deal--and even looks to be evident within our own solar system--it was only a matter of time before someone (Hubble in this case) confirmed the existence of a world that's essentially nothing but water.

But something akin to Waterworld or Mon Calamari (Star Wars reference - deal with it) would be way too easy, right? The planet in question, thrillingly named GJ 1214b, is said to have an atmosphere around ten times as dense as ours, meaning that even conditions above water would be akin to those in the depths of Earth's oceans.

In addition to being so thick with water vapor that even light from its sun would barely be able to get in, such conditions would give rise to substances like "hot ice" (in other words, water turning solid at temperatures far above the 32 degrees it takes on Earth) and "superfluid water" (in other words...I have no freaking idea what that means).

Just imagine what this planet's life might be like.

(Side Note: for the next two weeks, I am conducting a survey of visitors to this blog. Whether you're a regular reader or this is your first time, I'd love to hear from you - just follow this link. This notice will accompany every post this month, with Saturday, March 3rd being the final day to participate. Thanks for reading!)

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