Is there life beyond Earth? Webb detected methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of K2-18b

One of humanity’s great unanswered questions, locating planets where extrasolar life might exist, took a new step forward in 2019 with the discovery of significant amounts of water vapor. located in Earth’s atmosphere, it is the distant exoplanet K2-18b. This planet and its parent star, K2-18, lie about 124 light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Leo. This exoplanet is significantly larger and more massive than our Earth, but orbits in the habitable zone of its parent star. K2-18, although redder than our Sun, shines in the sky K2-18b with the same brightness as the Sun in Earth’s sky.

The discovery of water in the atmosphere in 2019 was made using data from three space telescopes: Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler, which recorded the colored absorption of water vapor as the planet moved in front of the star. Star. Now, in 2023, further observations by the Webb Space Telescope of infrared light have discovered evidence of other life-indicating molecules, including methane. The illustration depicts the exoplanet K2-18b on the far right orbiting a moon (center), which also orbits a red dwarf star shown on the lower left.