back to article First water world exoplanet spotted – and thankfully no sign of Kevin Costner, rejoice!

Scientists have detected water vapor wafting from the atmosphere of an exoplanet orbiting around its star within the habitable zone for the first time, according to a paper published in Nature Astronomy. Classified as a super-Earth, a type of planet that’s less than ten times the mass of our home world, K2-18b encircles its …

  1. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Red Dwarf solar system too far away for a jaunt on Starbug

    The important question from 'The boys from the Dwarf'...

    Is it shaped like Felicity Kendalls bottom?

    1. Evil Harry

      Ahead groove factor five!

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        It's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere...

        1. Ochib Silver badge

          Gold fish shoals nibbling by my feet

          1. A K Stiles

            ftfy

            feet => toes

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      "Is it shaped like Felicity Kendalls bottom?"

      That's a NSFW suggestion - I'll be needing a cold shower after contemplating that.

      1. AceRimmer1980
        Alien

        Open the washing machine door, HAL.

        Oh Lordy lordy deary me. Felicity Kendal's spacesuit. And it needs a goooood wash.

  2. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Alien

    Buy-N-Large

    On K2-18b a tin of sardines is 3ft. long :)

  3. SonofRojBlake

    "by studying the star’s spectrum with algorithms"

    Thanks for being so specific...

    1. Dr. G. Freeman

      Re: "by studying the star’s spectrum with algorithms"

      From what I've heard*, team are hoping to develop program commercially to finding data "needles in haystacks", so are being vague on details for IP reasons.

      *friends with someone who used to be on project, but left.

      1. D@v3

        Re: "by studying the star’s spectrum with algorithms"

        Finding a needle in a haystack is easy, all you need is a match and a good magnet.

        Finding a specific needle in a stack of needles.. now there's a challenge...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to lock P4C-970 out of the dialling computer.

  5. Keith 20

    "considered essential for our kind of life"

    Destructive, war-mongering idiots?

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Life but lower

    What kind of life would evolve on an 8G planet.

    For energy efficiency it would have to be short and low on friction, something like planet of the Skateboards.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Life but lower

      Eight times the mass would not result in 8g, owing to the larger diameter of the planet.

      1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

        Re: Life but lower

        And in this case, surface gravity should even be pretty similar to Earth's: with estimated factors of 8.63 for mass and 2.71 for radius, m/r2 gives us 1.17g.

        1. Rustbucket

          Re: Life but lower

          That's assuming it has a surface. On Ars Technica the writer surmised it's probably like a mini-Neptune, and possibly tidally locked.

          1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

            Re: Life but lower

            That's right, I though super-Earth meant rocky planet, but that's not necessarily the case for the biggest ones.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Life but lower

      What kind of life would evolve on an 8G planet.

      On the ground, pretty flat stuff but in deep water there's no reason why it couldn't be quite similar to what we have in the water here. A neutrally buoyant organism in water is not hugely affected by gravity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Life but lower

        " A neutrally buoyant organism in water is not hugely affected by gravity."

        I'd watch out for the despair squid if I were you...

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Life but lower

        "deep water there's no reason why it couldn't be quite similar to what we have in the water here."

        I hope the giant whale creatures there aren't planning on making any visits after we've killed off the last of our humpback whales.

        1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

          Re: Life but lower

          "I hope the giant whale creatures there aren't planning on making any visits after we've killed off the last of our humpback whales."

          Well if they do, at least we'll retroactively get "transparent aluminum" first.

    3. Bitsminer

      Re: Life but lower

      For energy efficiency it would have to be short...

      Life would be nasty, brutish, and extra short.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Life but lower

        You'll be fine as long as you remember to check your spigot...

  7. billat29

    Thank you!

    "just 111 light years away from Earth". Now I know how far.

    Bloody BBC dribbling on about 650 million million miles away. But I guess they are starting to pander to Rees-Moog. How many rods, poles or perches is that?

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: Thank you!

      You would think, with the bloody fortune I have to pay in taxes, that everyone would know what a light year is.

      British education in the state schools has become a comprehensive disaster.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: everyone would know what a light year is.

        I know! It's a year with a reduced alcohol content.

        1. cosymart
          Happy

          Re: everyone would know what a light year is.

          Coor :-(

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        British education in the state schools has become a comprehensive disaster

        Not all your taxes are spent on science education and in reality more is spent on irrational projects that otherwise.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Thank you!

        Not just you Brits. Seems to be a common thing in many countries to "dumb down" the population.

    2. CliveS

      Re: Thank you!

      "How many rods, poles or perches is that?"

      6.314x10e18 rods, poles or perches or, to be more accurate, 1.164x10e16 Devon Fatbergs

      1. batfink Silver badge

        Re: Thank you!

        That's just silly measuring it in rods/poles/perches. Measuring in Chains would reduce the figure by a factor of four.

    3. tony72

      Re: Thank you!

      To be fair, the light year is probably a difficult unit for Joe Bloggs to relate to, because it is so much larger than any distance we can physically experience. They probably feel that with miles, Joe Blogs will at least be able to relate to the base unit, and probably learned at school e.g. the distance from the Earth to the Sun in miles, so they have that as a yardstick. For those of us with at least a passing interest in astronomy cosmology, yes, not helpful.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Thank you!

        For the dumber members of the audience.

      2. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

        Re: Thank you!

        By the time you reach millions and millions of anything, the number's just noise to the vast majority of people(educated or not).

      3. annodomini2

        Re: Thank you!

        "the light year is probably a difficult unit for Joe Bloggs to relate to"

        The Sun is travelling at approximately 828,000km/h

        Speed of light (in a Vacuum) is 299 792 458 m/s or 299,792.458 km/s.

        A light year is 9,464,615,782,836.48 km

        Therefore the Sun takes roughly 1303 years to travel 1 light year.

        1. Lotaresco

          Re: Thank you!

          A light year is 0.5 petabus. So at 111 light-years that's 55.5 petabus.

          So lets say 55,500,000,000,000,000 bus lengths.

          Units that are familiar to the man on the street!

      4. Lotaresco

        Re: Thank you!

        "To be fair, the light year is probably a difficult unit for Joe Bloggs to relate to"

        The BBC has its own standards for length, volume, mass and electrical energy. These are the London bus, Olympic swimming pool, elephant and home respectively.

        I'm surprised that this article did not give distances to the stars in terms of the London bus.

    4. MonkeyBob

      Re: Thank you!

      The BBC does say it's 11 light years, that quotes a distance in miles for those who don't know what a light year is.

    5. Spherical Cow Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: Thank you!

      I'm not sure about rods or poles, but there could be lots of perches swimming in all that water.

    6. oldfartuk

      Re: Thank you!

      1920 million million poles. A pole was 5.5 yards, being the distance from the ploughmans heel to the horses nose.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    thankfully no sign of Kevin Costner, rejoice

    ah, this classical male shavinist pig who dares treat females in the usual boring fashion consistent with treatment by all males in all post-apocalyptic scenarios of a bygone era. I can't wait for a female-directed and starred re-make, when Kevin buttocks are exposed in their sagging glory! Justice ahoy...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: thankfully no sign of Kevin Costner, rejoice

      "male shavinist pig"????

      Someone against pigs with beards?

  9. D@v3

    Super earth.

    How small can a planet be before it is no longer a 'super earth'? if "a type of planet that’s less than ten times the mass of the Earth"?

    The Earth is less than 10x the mass of the Earth, right?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Super earth.

      The problem with detecting planets is that, at this point in time, all we have is the transition model - and that means that detecting something that is actually Earth-sized is near impossible unless the system is very close and the planets orbit passes between us and their star.

      Needless to say, we're not detecting any actually Earth-sized planets hundreds of light-years away any time soon.

      Not that we have the means to get there anyway, so . . .

      1. Trygve Henriksen

        Re: Super earth.

        I'm pretty certain that they can also 'spot' large planets by plotting the wobble of a star or other already detected planets in that solar system.

  10. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Boffin

    Background

    There's some fascinating behind-the-scenes on the intrigue and complications around the reporting of this story, here: https://twitter.com/marinakoren/status/1171873631808438273

    Spoiler alert: two teams, same discovery

    For a much more detailed look at what the mass / composition of known exoplanets look like plotted on a graph, from Emily Lakdawalla of TPS, starts here. Gets properly deep and geeky and fascinating: https://twitter.com/elakdawalla/status/1171880863186841600

  11. Bunker_MonkeyUK

    Only 111LY

    Better get our alien friends to go and take a look.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Only" 111LY

    On the flip side, if they are hostile and can travel 10% LS then we don't have to worry until sometime in the mid 21st century. 2063 anyone?

    To be honest on an 8G planet their options would be limited space wise, possibly they might be able to get as far as floating habitats but that takes technology. Which they probably can't build without a substantial landmass, sufficient raw materials etc.

    I'd be more concerned about the possibility of the Singularity than earth being invaded by hostile Super-Squid from Planet X (tm) or someone pushing the button.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: "Only" 111LY

      Your maths are a bit off.

      1,110 years so set your alarm clock for 3129.

      Anyway size, mass and surface gravity is more complex than that, the gravity at the surface would be only 1.17G. (see earlier message from FrogsAndChips).

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