Home / Science / 2 studies, 1 planet! In a race to discover a water vapor world

2 studies, 1 planet! In a race to discover a water vapor world

Water vapor and probably clouds that rain liquid water were discovered on a exoplanet located in the habitable zone of its star. But there is a problem.

While the discovery was published late Tuesday evening (September 10th) in an article on the preprint server arXiv.org, yesterday (September 11) a second article reviewed by experts was published in the journal Naturastronomie, which also published the Detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of this planet showed. Both studies used the observations of the team that first published on arXiv.org.

In short, researchers made an important discovery – water vapor and probably liquid water clouds in the atmosphere of the exoplanet K2-1

8b – based on data they had collected using the Hubble Space Telescope. However, another team took some of this data and used it to arrive at similar conclusions .

Video: Discovery of water vapor in the atmosphere of the exoplanet K2-18b
Related: These 10 exoplanets could be the home of alien life

Often Researchers do it Publish the results and then another team uses the data to independently replicate the first team's results or gain new insights. But that did not happen here. The team, which published its article in Nature Astronomy, consisting of researchers at University College London, began using the data long before the team making these observations published its findings.

However, it should be noted that this data was freely usable and publicly available.

"It is the policy of STScI (ie Space Telescope Science Institute, the institute that manages Hubble) that after expiration of this proprietary term, all data will be made publicly available as open access data for the community (UCL). " Researcher Ingo Waldmann told Space.com in an e-mail. "In addition to publicly archived data, we've analyzed it with open source algorithms that have been publicly available on GitHub for several years."

Well, the studies do not draw the same conclusions and differ in many ways. For example, the UCL study published yesterday describes the exoplanet as a "super Earth". The authors of the first published study, led by principal investigator Björn Benneke, a professor at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal, consider this label as misleading and instead label the planet a kind of "mini-Neptune", Benneke said to Space .com.

Although not identical, both studies use the data collected by Bennekes' team and draw at least one overlapping conclusion: water vapor exists in the atmosphere of this exoplanet.

  The two studies </h2>
<p class=  Researchers at University College London published this picture to demonstrate the detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of exoplanet K2-18b.

Researchers at University College London published this picture in a study published September 11, 2019, for the detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of the exoplan eten K2-18b to illustrate.

(Photo credit: ESA / Hubble, M. Kornmesser)

First, a large international team led by Benneke published their discovery of water vapor and probably liquid water clouds in the atmosphere of the exoplanet K2-18b late Tuesday evening (10. September) on the pre-print site arXiv.org, where scientists can report studies before they are published in journals. Peer review is a process by which a study is evaluated by scientists in a similar field to ensure that it meets the research standards of a publication. Nature's peer review process is described here .

The pre-print study at arXiv.org is here and was also submitted to the Astronomical Journal.

The London-based team, which published its work on Wednesday (September 11) in the journal Nature Astronomy, used Hubble data collected by Benneke's team and cited in their work to deliver water vapor to these exoplanets detect atmosphere.

The London team described its study with reporters during a press conference on Tuesday as part of a media embargo. In this agreement, the reporters agree to publish news at a specific time in order to gain a brief insight into the research. The system is designed to give reporters the lead time required for more thorough and accurate reporting on high-profile studies.

The study of natural astronomy can be found here .

Persecution of Exoplanet K2-18b

So, what exactly happened? We know the following.

In 2015, the NASA Kepler Space Telescope discovered a strange exoplanet, the exoplanet K2-18b about twice the size of the Earth and eight times more massive than the one in the habitable zone of its star 110 light Planet. Years away from Earth.

Soon after, Benneke asked to observe the planet using the Hubble Space Telescope he told Space.com. The time spent with Hubble and other large telescopes and observatories is precious and will be awarded to certain projects after the researchers have made thorough suggestions. During some supply cycles, Hubble receives five times the number of inquiries it can answer.

Benneke's team recently found evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of K2-18b from these observations, saying Benneke further analyzed the data, hoping that both would confirm what they had found and make further discoveries. While collecting the data years ago, scientists needed some time to fully evaluate their findings, he added.

Benneke's team observed the exoplanet 2016 and 2017 in front of its star-shaped parent, a red dwarf star. They then analyzed this data for years to arrive at the complex conclusions described in their work.

Related Topics: Water vapor on exoplanet K2-18b is exciting – but it is not a twin earth

During this time, the UCL researchers used this data and performed similar analyzes and, like Benneke's team, detected water vapor in the atmosphere of the exoplanet. However, Benneke's article contains additional details about the planet itself and provides clues to liquid clouds of water and possibly even rain.

"The article under embargo states that the record they use contains a PI." Björn Benneke: The PI designed The fact that the PI was not on the authors list means that another team has publicly available data in it used in a competition. "Sara Seager, astronomer, planetary scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was not involved in both studies, said in an email to Space.com.

Now remember that the data was publicly accessible to everyone.

"Technically speaking, using this data is not illegal," Benneke told Space.com.

In addition, he added that the London-based team also discovered water vapor: "It's no surprise, because our team has done a great job, and these observations have all been done by NASA and the Space Telescope very well." It does not take too much from another team … just to take the data and analyze it in the same way. "

In part, this is fine, he continued, as it shows that two teams" have They looked at the data and showed each other independently that there is the signature of the water uptake on this planet. "

But Benneke said," I'm not very excited about the fact that they just took our data. They did not even contact me about it. "

In short, Benneke and his team thought they were on their way to a unique discovery, only to find their data to be a different team Like in sports, there is always a race where you come first.

"In exoplanet science, there are many cases where two competing articles are published simultaneously on the same topic, but usually not with a PI record that sets the standard. Practicing is a common courtesy that Data analysis and publication to the PI team, "said Seager.

This departure from standard practice may make the actions of the London team appear more like an act of competition. To emphasize once again, they have not crossed legal boundaries, as they used this Hubble data only after a certain time window (a fixed "proprietary period") to serve as a buffer for the science team creating the data to do has, she can receive original observations publish her results first.

"All data used for the UCL study are publicly available in the STScI MAST archive, and the observations have in fact been publicly archived since 2016 and 2017."

"We are aware of reports from other researchers who published a study on the pre-print platform arxiv on Tuesday, September 10, which reports similar results, as it is not a peer review. If the trial is peer-reviewed, it would strongly confirm our findings, which is fantastic. "

This strange situation is almost as strange as K2 -18b itself . "Business-as-usual" procedure certainly not applied to these discoveries.

But while this exoplanetary debacle ruffles some feathers in the scientific community, the results of these two works are a great advance for our understanding and knowledge of exoplanets and the search for aquatic worlds beyond our solar system.

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd . Follow us on Twitter @SpaceTotcom and Facebook .

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