The discovery of K2-18b is remarkable.

In a study published Sept. 11, 2019, researchers at the University College London released this image to illustrate the detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of exoplanet K2-18b.In a study published Sept. 11, 2019, researchers at the University College London released this image to illustrate the detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of exoplanet K2-18b.(Image: © ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser)
Water vapor, and likely clouds that rain liquid water, have been discovered in the atmosphere of an exoplanet that lies in the habitable zone of its star. But there’s an issue.

While the discovery broke late Tuesday night (Sept. 10) in a paper posted to the preprint server arXiv.org, a second, peer-reviewed paper was published the next day (Sept. 11) in the journal Nature Astronomy that also showed the detection of water vapor in this planet’s atmosphere. Both of these studies used the observations made by the team who published first, on arXiv.org.

In short, researchers made a major discovery — water vapor and likely liquid water clouds in the atmosphere of an exoplanet called K2-18b — based on data they collected using the Hubble Space Telescope. But another team took and used some of that data to reach similar conclusions.

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