Piping Hot Earth-Sized Exoplanet Leads TESS To An Intriguing New World!

NASA discovers 'Disneyland' of exoplanets and possible missing link

NASA discovers 'Disneyland' of exoplanets and possible missing link

NASA's newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has discovered three new worlds one slightly larger than Earth and two of a type not found in our solar system orbiting a nearby star, according to the USA space agency.

After some further solar sleuthing, the researchers came across a clutch of planets, the most promising of which, GJ 357 d, has conditions which indicate that it could sustain life. That's what TESS saw in GJ 357, which is only 31 light-years away.

The planet lies in the star system GJ 357, which hosts an M-type dwarf sun that is only about a third of the size of the sun.

"Without an atmosphere, it has an equilibrium temperature of minus 64 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius), which would make the planet seem more glacial than habitable".

As this super-Earth exoplanet is more massive than earth, Kaltenegger said this discovery will provide insight into Earth's heavyweight planetary cousins. The star's temperature is also estimated to be about one-third cooler than our solar system's sun.

The satellite looks for dips in light that can betray the presence of a planet passing - or "transiting" - in front of its host star.

Within the system known as TOI-270 there is a rocky super-Earth that is slightly larger than our own planet, as well as two gaseous sub-Neptunes, roughly twice Earth's size.

The closest of the three planets - TOI-270 b - takes little over three days to orbit its star, with TOI-270 c taking 5.7 days and TOI-270 d at 11.4 days.

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Details of the planet's discovery was published in the journal, Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Further observations revealed two more exoplanetary siblings: GJ 357 c and GJ 357 d.

"If the planet has a dense atmosphere, which will take future studies to determine, it could trap enough heat to warm the planet and allow liquid water on its surface", Diana Kossakowski, a member of the team that discovered the planet, said in a press release.

"Although it can not host life, it is noteworthy as the third-nearest transiting exoplanet known to date and one of the best rocky planets we have for measuring the composition of any atmosphere it may possess". But if GJ 357 d is rocky and has just the right kind of atmosphere, liquid water and maybe even life could exist on its surface.

TESS has found 24 new planets.

However, a newly-discovered planet orbiting a star close to Earth is one of the rare exceptions, and it's showing some serious promise for researchers to who dream of finding life in space.

'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'.

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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