Research by American astronomers shows evidence of water clouds outside our Solar System. This may be irrefutable proof of the existence of extraterrestrial life.
The water clouds, observed by the experts, are registered on a brown dwarf, found 7.3 light years from Earth.
The mass of the brown dwarf is 10 times that of Jupiter. If observations of the celestial body can prove that the clouds around it really do consist of water vapor, this would be the first step in finding habitable planets.
The discovery was made by scientists from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., under the guidance of Jacqueline Faherty.
The experts explained that the water clouds were found near the coldest brown dwarf known so far - WISE J0855-0714. Temperatures there vary between -55 and 8°F (-48 and -13°C).
Most of these stars are too cold for thermonuclear reactions to take place on them. Due to the fact that they burn up the hydrogen in their core very slowly, they have a huge lifespan.
The clouds were registered by scientists' observations of 151 photographs in the near-infrared range, after using the 21 ft (6.5 m) Magellan Baade telescope in Chile.
The images showed that the color of the gas giant matched the color of the water-ice clouds around the brown dwarf. Half of this object is darkened by clouds, making it very similar to Earth.
The researchers hope to confirm their conclusions through detailed investigations of the spectra of WISE J0855-0714. That is why they are waiting for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope) at the end of the decade.
Even though water vapor have been spotted before around exoplanets, scientists announce that these are the first found outside of our solar system.
The only water vapors seen within our solar system are those around our own planet and Mars. It is thought that Jupiter and Saturn also contain water clouds, but they are hidden beneath the frozen ammonia that enshrouds them.