Can Astronomers Detect Exoplanet Oceans?
Detecting water on the surface of exoplanets is becoming a high priority for researchers, as surface water is considered a requirement for habitability. New research examines whether or not the “glint” of light from a planet can be interpreted as evidence for surface oceans.
Given the plethora of confirmed exoplanets, many researchers have turned their attention to studying these strange new worlds in greater detail. With several exoplanets thought to orbit in the “habitable zone” of their host star where liquid water might be stable, different methods of detecting surface water are under development. One such proposed method of detecting water oceans on an exoplanet is via specular reﬂection, also known as “glint”. If you’ve seen a bright reflection of sunlight on a lake or ocean here on Earth, you’ve seen an example of the glint effect.
Scientists posit that surface oceans of exoplanets would affect the planet’s apparent reflectivity, also known as albedo. This increase of albedo should be detectable during the crescent phase of a planet.
Check out the full Astrobiology Magazine article at: http://www.astrobio.net/exclusive/4882/can-astronomers-detect-exoplanet-oceans