A team of researchers have recently discovered a planet about 100 light years away from Earth that they believe could be completely covered in water. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the planet - called TOI-1452 b - is believed to be 70% larger than Earth and is located in a "Goldilocks zone," where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on its surface.
Using observations from NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the team of researchers led by the University of Montreal announced the discovery of a "super-Earth". As per a press release, the US space agency said, "Further investigation could shed light on an intriguing possibility: that the planet might be a 'water world.'"
The planet is roughly five times heavier than Earth and its density could be consistent with having a "very deep ocean". It could also be a huge rock, with little or no atmosphere. "It could even be a rocky planet with an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium," the press note read.
TOI-1452 orbits its red-dwarf star once every 11 days or so. It also orbits a binary star system, in which two stars orbit one another at a distance roughly two-and-a-half times that from our own Sun to Pluto.
Separately, as per a study published in The Astronomical Journal, Charles Cadieux, a PhD student at the University of Montreal stated, "TOI-1452 b is one of the best candidates for an ocean planet that we have found to date". Mr Cadieux, who is the lead author of the study, also added, "Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than what one would expect for a planet that is basically made up of metal and rock, like Earth".
Analysis suggested that water might make up as much as 30% of the planet's mass - a proportion similar to some solar system moons like Titan or Ganymede.
Now, to find out for sure whether TOI-1452 b is watery, scientists will need to look at it by using the powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The planet is a perfect candidate for observation as it is close enough to Earth to be easily seen and located in a part of the sky that the telescope can view year-round.
Researchers are aiming to schedule time on Webb to probe TOI-1452 b as soon as they can.