NASA Probe Discovers Third New Planet Outside Solar System

NASA Probe Discovers Third New Planet Outside Solar System

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. "But here we were lucky, and caught this one, and can now study it in more detail", Dragomir said.

The inquisitive students made the finding by sifting through data collected by the Kepler Telescope, looking for evidence of transits, which is the regular dimming of a star when a planet moves across its face.

Furthermore, the planet could be gas-rich like Neptune or rocky like Earth.

"We think this planet wouldn't be as gaseous as Neptune or Uranus, which are mostly hydrogen and really puffy", Dragomir says. "The planet likely has a density of water, or a thick atmosphere".

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) which launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess) for searching exoplanets in April, 2018 has discovered a third small planet outside our solar system. 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.

"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", said Feinstein, who presented the discovery at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle on Monday, Jan. 7.

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.

This shifting focus makes it tough for TESS to find planets that lie far from their host stars and therefore take a long time to complete one orbit.

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In May 2017, citizen scientists began discussing a particular planet candidate, but it had only two transits, or passes of the planet in front of its star. It's probably a "lava world", Huang said, given how close some of the planet's rocky surface is to its star.

So the reprocessed, "cleaned-up" light curves were uploaded through the Exoplanet Explorers project on online platform Zooniverse, and the public was invited to "go forth and find us planets", Feinstein said.

Its sensitive cameras also captured 100 short-lived changes-including six supernova explosions recorded from space before being discovered by ground-based telescopes.

During the first month of data collection, TESS captured images of six supernovae, said Michael Fausnaugh, another researcher at the MIT Kavli Institute.

Stargazers using the NASA Kepler space telescope discovered the celestial body, dubbed K2-288Bb, located some 226 light-years away in the Taurus constellation.

TESS is surveying an area in the sky that is 400 times larger than what Kepler observed, including 200,000 of the brightest nearby stars. The satellite will cover virtually the entire sky by the end of its two-year prime mission. This will enable scientists to survey almost the entire sky.

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. There were too many light curves to study on their own. 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 Lincoln Laboratory; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

Follow-up observations were made with multiple telescopes to confirm the exoplanet.

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