Astronomers have one of the coolest jobs in the universe.
They get to study the vast unknown of space and figure out what exactly is going on with planets that we have just begun to see in the past few decades. Could there be more Earth-like planets out there just waiting to be discovered? What about life?
We're one step closer to figuring out the answers to those questions because scientists have created a new technique that has confirmed an exoplanet does have water in its atmosphere.
51 Pegasi b is an exoplanet that's hot and gaseous about 51 light-years away. It orbits a star like our sun, and it was discovered back in 1995.
Using a new technique that observes planets side-by-side and detects light waves, scientists were able to determine that water is present in 51 Pegasi b's atmosphere.
This discovery is important because even though 51 Pegasi b is probably not habitable, the presence of water in the atmosphere means other planets that can sustain life also may have water. This new technique gives us a way to find out.