NASA's planet hunter TESS has just discovered a new distant world

NASA's planet hunter TESS has just discovered a new distant world

It is the third confirmed exoplanet sighted by TESS, with the first being Pi Mensae c, roughly twice Earth's size and visible to the unaided eye in constellation Mensa.

According to the study, the planet is 226 light-years away in the constellation Taurus.

The brighter of the pair is about half as large and massive as the sun while the dimmer one is about a third of the solar mass and size.

An artist's visualization of the exoplanet LHS 3884b.

The newly identified planet dubbed K2-288Bb is twice the size of the Earth. The host star of the newly discovered exoplanet is nearly as bright as our sun, so researchers behind the discovery will have an interesting time learning about it.

K2-288Bb, as the new planet is called, is located within its star's habitable zone, which is why liquid water is a possibility.




Diana Dragomir, who led a research paper into the discovery, said this presented an exciting opportunity for researchers.

The new world has a surface temperature of about 150 degrees Celsius, which scientists say is quite cool given how close it is to its star.

Scientists said the system may hold an additional planet that is about the size of Earth that has an orbit of only eight days. The planet orbits a binary star system consisting of two stars that are smaller than our own Sun. That is, it looks for tiny dips in starlight caused when planets cross their host stars' faces from the satellite's perspective. As far as what the planet may be like, the jury is still out. From this, they estimated that, if they indeed had seen a transit in the TESS data from sector 1, then another transit should appear 36 days later, in data from sector 3. It has also discovered a super-Earth and a rocky world, making three exoplanet discoveries in the first three months since it began surveying the sky in July. Six of these events, highlighted in this movie, are supernovae - exploding stars - located in distant galaxies.

The data that yielded the finds was collected between 25 July and 22 August previous year by the space telescope's four cameras. They determined that they should be able to find the signal again, in TESS's "sector 3" data - which they succeeded in doing.

In addition to observing exoplanets, TESS has spotted many other types of astronomical phenomena, including comets and asteroids, flare stars and mutually eclipsing binary stars, white dwarf stars and supernovae. As the satellite only collects data from a sector for 27 days, it's hard to identify planets with orbits longer than that time period; by the time a planet passes around again, the satellite may have shifted to view another slice of the sky. To put it in context, Michael Fausnaugh, a pipeline scientist on TESS, discussed this in comparison to NASA's now defunct Kepler telescope. "The astronomical community's reaction to the early data release showed us that the world is ready to jump in and add to the mission's scientific bounty".

George Ricker, the mission's principal investigator at MIT, predicted further discoveries: 'We're only halfway through Tess's first year of operations and the data floodgates are just beginning to open'. Indeed, HD 21749b is very far-flung for TESS; two other smallish worlds found by the mission have orbital periods of 11 hours and 6.3 days, respectively.

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