Science

NASA's planet hunting satellite discovers 'missing' planets

NASA's planet hunting satellite discovers 'missing' planets”

The exoplanet, named GJ 357 d, is believed to be around twice the size of Earth and harbor six times Earth's mass.

"TOI-270 is a true Disneyland for exoplanet science, and one of the prime systems TESS was set out to discover,"Günther continued".

NASA's planet-probing satellite, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has had a very fruitful first year overseas. The star, called TOI 270, is surrounded by a trio of planets, including one rocky world and a pair of "sub-Neptune" worlds that scientists are eager to learn more about.

This planet system is the third-closest identified using the "transit" method, in which telescopes watch for tiny dips in a star's brightness that could be caused by a planet passing in front of it.

An global group of astronomers discovered the planet using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) earlier this year in the constellation Hydra, about 31 light-years from Earth, according to a statement by NASA. The third exoplanet is described as 'slightly larger than Earth'.

"All of the planets are expected to be tidally locked to the star, which means they only rotate once every orbit and keep the same side facing the star at all times, just as the moon does in its orbit around Earth". "This star is quiet and really close to us, and therefore a lot brighter than the host stars of comparable programs". When astronomers checked the star for confirmation, they discovered two more worlds orbiting it. "With extended follow-up observations, we'll soon be able to determine the make-up of these worlds, establish if atmospheres are present and what gases they contain, and more", he said.

"TOI 270 is perfectly situated in the sky for studying the atmospheres of its outer planets with NASA's future James Webb Space Telescope", the study's co-author Adina Feinstein added in the NASA release. TOI 270 c and TOI 270 d, respectively, register as 2.4 and 2.1 times larger than Earth. This gives it an equilibrium temperature - calculated without accounting for the additional warming effects of a possible atmosphere - of around 490 degrees Fahrenheit (254 degrees Celsius).

In a new paper in the The Astrophysical Journal Letters, a team led by Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy and director of Cornell's Carl Sagan Institute, models the conditions under which the planet - discovered in early 2019 - could sustain life. The planet's size and composition are unknown, but a rocky world with this mass would range from about one to two times Earth's size.

Without an atmosphere, it has an equilibrium temperature of -64 F (-53 C), which would make the planet seem more glacial than habitable.

TESS is led and operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology out of Cambridge and managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.



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