Media Releases

Astronomers come up dry in search for water on exoplanets

July 24, 2014

TORONTO, ON – A team of astronomers has made the most pre­cise mea­sure­ments yet of water vapour in the atmos­pheres of Jupiter-like plan­ets beyond our Solar Sys­tem and found them to be much dri­er worlds than expect­ed.

The team, includ­ing Dr. Nico­las Crouzet of the Dun­lap Insti­tute for Astron­o­my & Astro­physics, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, has found that the abun­dance of atmos­pher­ic water vapour is between ten and a thou­sand times less than what mod­els pre­dict.

“The low water vapour lev­els are sur­pris­ing,” says Crouzet. “Our mod­els pre­dict a much high­er abun­dance of water vapour, and so these results chal­lenge our cur­rent under­stand­ing of plan­et for­ma­tion. And they raise ques­tions about our abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy water in an Earth-like exo­plan­et.”

To read the com­plete ApJ paper and release, and to down­load images:‑3/  Pass­word: HD209458b


For more infor­ma­tion:

Chris Sasa­ki
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Coor­di­na­tor
Dun­lap Insti­tute for Astron­o­my & Astro­physics