The universe we live in is vast beyond our wildest imagination, we know that it is infinite and the planet we live on is the only planet suited for life. But, Earth is just one of billions of planets that thrive in the vast universe.
To believe that Earth is the only planet suited to support life amongst is foolish. For years intellectuals have argued that there may exist a planet with conditions somewhat similar to Earth on which life could bloom but so far we have been unable to find it. Until recently, when a planet that goes by the name K2-18b fell under the sight of NASA’s Kepler telescope.
K2-18b is by far the first planet to be discovered that could potentially host life. Lying in the Goldilocks Zone in the Leo constellation, where liquid water has been found, at an ideal temperature to potentially host living organisms in addition to suitable gases that wrap around the planet. First discovered by NASA in 2015, it is approximately 110 lightyears away and behaves much like the Earth, with a few exceptions. For example; the Earth revolves around the sun while K2-18b revolves around a red dwarf that is much cooler than the Sun and only warms up the planet to 10 degrees Celsius. Orbiting at a distance of 14 miles from the dwarf, the planet is said to complete the orbit in approximately 33 days, compared to Earth which completes one orbit in approximately 365 days.
The most important aspect of determining whether a planet can sustain life or not is by determining if there is water present on the planet. Water compromises about 70% of the Earth, without it, life cannot survive let alone thrive. So, to find a planet that could potentially support life, water is the first priority. 2 years after K2-18b’s discovery, NASA’s sole objective was to search for water on the planet. They found that every time the planet moved in front of the dwarf, the wavelength absorbed by the water dropped. Similarly, as the planet crossed, the wavelength rose. For NASA, this confirmed the presence of water vapors. Further studies show that K2-18b is much bigger than Earth nearly twice the size and has a temperature ranging from 0 to 40 degrees Celsius which is optimal in regards to supporting life. In addition to that, studies show that it may be made up of 50% water.
Knowing that another planet besides Earth exists that can support life is an exciting prospect, but with more than a hundred lightyears between the Earth and its equal, we are not inhabiting it anytime soon. But, maybe one day.