Learn More About The New Worlds TESS Has Discovered

NASA's Planet Hunting Probe Discovers Third New Planet

NASA's Planet Hunting Probe Discovers Third New Planet

NASA's planet-hunting telescope is making landmark discoveries at an astonishing pace and has now confirmed discovery of a third new planet and a handful of exploding stars in our "cosmic backyard". It has since been replaced by NASA's new space telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

'In contrast, the new planet, called Pi Mensae c, has a circular orbit close to the star, and these orbital differences will prove key to understanding how this unusual system formed'.

The exoplanet, known as K2-288Bb, is about twice the size of Earth and orbits within the habitable zone of its star, meaning liquid water may exist on its surface. 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.

The surface of the new planet is likely around 300 degrees Fahrenheit - relatively cool, given its proximity to its star, which is nearly as bright as the sun.

"It's the coolest small planet that we know of around a star this bright", Diana Dragomir, a postdoc in MIT Kavli Institute who led this latest discovery, said in a statement.

Tess will spend about two years surveying 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for planets outside our solar system. Few planets that orbit close to their stars are more than 1.5 times as large as Earth, yet K2-288Bb is said to be around 1.9 times bigger than the size of our planet.

Less than a year after NASA's TESS spacecraft was launched, the scientists behind the mission have unveiled their third confirmed planet, a weird alien world that's between Earth and Neptune in size.

However, it is unlikely that the planet is rocky and therefore habitable; it's more likely made of gas, of a kind that is much more dense than the atmospheres of either Neptune or Uranus. "It could be a water planet or have some other type of substantial atmosphere".

An unconfirmed sighting of a smaller, Earth-sized world was also found orbiting the star every 8 days but experts are yet to find conclusive evidence.

HD 21749b completes one orbit of its host star, which is almost as bright as our sun, every 36 Earth days.

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The researchers announced the find today at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle.

'TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose properties can be probed by NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions'.

"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 the MIT Kavli Institute.

TESS will look for exoplanets using the transit method, observing slight dips in the brightness of stars as planets pass in front of them.

NASA's Kepler space telescope is dead. "TESS found as many in its first month".

By studying objects much brighter than the Kepler targets, it's hoped TESS could uncover new clues on the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.

TESS does this work by carving the sky up into overlapping sectors, studying each one for 27 days at a time.

Scientists are already working on followup observations for more than 280 planet candidates that TESS has found.

Feinstein and Makennah Bristow, an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina Asheville, worked as interns at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, searching the data for transits.

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