Astronomers have for the first time discovered water in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting within the habitable zone of a distant star.
According to lead scientist, Prof Giovanna Tinetti of University College London, the discovery is mind blowing.
“This is the first time that we have detected water on a planet in the habitable zone around a star where the temperature is potentially compatible with the presence of life,” she said.
The habitable zone is the region around a star where temperatures are benign for water to exist in liquid form on the surface of the planet.
The world, an exoplanet, which is called K2-18b is a plausible candidate in the search for alien life.
Exoplanets are planets beyond our Solar system.
“This is one of the biggest questions in science and we have always wondered if we are alone in the universe,”said UCL’s Dr Waldmann.
“In the next 10 years we will know whether there are chemicals that are due to life in those atmospheres,” he added.
The new planet is just over twice the size of the earth and has a temperature cool enough to have liquid water between zero and 40 degrees centigrade.