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:  Password: HD209458b


For more information:

Chris Sasaki
Communications Coordinator
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics