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Astronomers detect water on exoplanets
Posted: Thu, Sep 19, 2002, 10:21 AM ET (1421 GMT)
Extrasolar planet illustration (David Hardy) Astronomers announced this week that they have detected evidence of water in the atmospheres of several extrasolar planets. Italian scientists used a radio telescope to look for emissions of water "masers" created when infrared light excites water molecules. They found evidence of water at Upsilon Andromedae, a star where three exoplanets have been discovered, as well as at Epsilon Eridani and Lalande 21185. Although water is one of the key requirements for life to form, scientists donít believe any of these massive gas giants, some of which orbit close to their parent stars, could harbor any sort of life. The presence of water, though, suggests that water could exist on other, as yet undetected, worlds around these stars. The discovery may also allow scientists to track atmospheric circulation in these planets.
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