Scientists have detected water vapor on other planets in the past, but these detections could only take place under very specific circumstances. The new technique expands a radial velocity technique, commonly used to detect carbon dioxide using light in the visible spectrum, into the infrared spectrum. This has opened up the ability of astronomers to analyze the molecules that comprise the atmosphere of exoplanets that don't exist under those specific circumstances.
Credit: Alexandra Lockwood (Caltech), background image used with permission from David Aguilar(CfA). Media Contact: Steve JeffersonCommunications OfficerW. M. Keck Observatory firstname.lastname@example.org (808) 881-3827 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) astronomers using data gathered at the W. M. Keck Observatory have developed a new technique for planetary scientists that could provide insight into how many water planets like Earth exist within our universe.