NASA Satellite Reveals Gas-Formed ‘Super Earth’ Planet

NASA's planet finder discovers weird new world and 6 six exploding stars

NASA's planet finder discovers weird new world and 6 six exploding stars

Dubbed HD 21749b, the globe orbits a nearby dwarf star about 53 light years from Earth, in the constellation Reticulum, and appears to have the longest orbital period of the triad. It's clear that the world is significantly larger than Earth, about twice the size, but it's located within what scientists consider the habitable zone of its system. But scientists require a third transit before claiming the discovery of a candidate planet, and there wasn't a third signal in the observations they reviewed.

"It's a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon", the lead author of a paper on the discovery, Adina Feinstein said in a NASA news release. The brighter star is about half as massive and large as the Sun, while its companion is about one-third the Sun's mass and size.

"We think of TESS as an exoplanet-hunter, but in addition TESS is very effective at finding many other types of objects", said Dr. George Ricker, principal investigator with the TESS mission.

The new planet is 23 times bigger than our own Earth, meaning it highly likely to be gaseous rather than rocky, and it has an atmosphere more dense than Neptune or Uranus.

An exoplanet three times the size of Earth has been discovered relatively close to our solar system. The last of these three has astroboffins excited because while it's too hot for life at 150°C (300°F), it could either be a water planet or be home to what Hubble Fellow Diana Dragomir called a "substantial atmosphere".

There is also evidence that a second planet could exist in this system with a 7.8-day orbit - which could be the first Earth-size planet dicovered by TESS.

Furthermore, the planet could be gas-rich like Neptune or rocky like Earth. That is, it looks for tiny dips in starlight caused when planets cross their host stars' faces from the satellite's perspective.

"This is only the ninth system discovered containing six or more planets", he said.

Launched in April 2018 for a two-year mission, Tess will survey almost the entire sky by monitoring and piecing together overlapping slices of the night sky. Feinstein presented the find January 7 at the American Astronomical Society's winter meeting in Seattle.

It orbits its host star every 36 days and is believed to have a surface temperature of 150°C (300°F).

"Some of the most interesting science occurs in the early days of a supernova, which has been very hard to observe before TESS", said Michael Fausnaugh, a TESS researcher at MKI. Its size is rare among exoplanets - planets beyond our solar system. "NASA's Kepler space telescope caught five of these events as they brightened during its first four years of operations".

Tess is 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide and is shorter than most adults. The mission has already flagged several hundred planet candidates, and its confirmed finds will run into the thousands when all is said and done, NASA officials have said.

Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT's Lincoln Laboratory; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

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