Using the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Kepler Space Telescope, NASA scientists have been able to see a semblance of water vapor in the exoplanet HAT-P-11b as it passed in its orbit between the Earth and its own sun. This planet lies 124 years from Earth, and has become the smallest planet to be seen to have water vapor in it. These water vapor on the gaseous outer layer of this exoplanet might indicate the presence of water within the system, and this might lend credence to the possibility of alien life within the planet.
According to Jonathan Fraine of the University of Maryland, “it’s the smallest planet that we’ve seen anything in the atmosphere beside clouds. The fact that it’s clear at all is significant.” This discovery is significant because NASA has been interested in finding the evidence of life in space for decades, and the presence of a body of water in space might just do that.
NASA astronomers were able to capture proof of water vapor in the exoplanet as it passed over a rim of a star and then the other rim of the same star. They were able to view the vapor twice and this has lent more weight to their theory of water within the planet. Furthermore, the opportunity for the sight has presented the astronomers with a very clear sky in the passing body, which is uncommon in other murky exoplanets which had been observed.
The HAT-P-11b has been noted to have a mass that is 26 times bigger than that of Earth with a diameter that is only four times bigger as well. It might have formed as a body of rocks and ice and then absorbed hydrogen and other gases from space. Although scientists continue to study this amazingly clear exoplanet, further research could yield more evidence of life in space even though this is still highly unlikely.