Thursday, 17 January, 2019

NASA's planet finder discovers weird new world and 6 six exploding stars

TESS Discovers Third New Planet NASA's planet finder discovers weird new world and 6 six exploding stars
Doris Mccormick | 09 January, 2019, 18:23

NASA has located a planet just outside of our solar system that may actually have water on it.

And in May 2017 after looking at the new information that was posted on Exoplanet Explorers - which allows the public to look at Kepler's K2 observations to try and find new transiting planets - they finally found that third transit.

The latest discovery - an exoplanet called HD 21749b, has the longest orbital period at 36 days.

The other two planets it has discovered are Pi Mensae c, a super-Earth that zips around its star in 6.3 days, and LHS 3844b, a rocky planet that flies around its planet in a whopping 11-hour orbit.

All three planets were discovered in the first three months of TESS observations. Why scientists are saying the new planet's surface is relatively cool is because its star is nearly as bright as our very own Sun, the team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston said.

"We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the closest stars", Paul Hertz, the director of NASA's astrophysics division, said in March 2018. Few planets that orbit close to their stars are more than 1.5 times as large as Earth, yet K2-288Bb is estimated to be roughly 1.9 times the size of our planet.

During its time, Kepler discovered more than 2,600 planets - about 50 of which are believed to be the same size and temperature as Earth.

"We think this planet wouldn't be as gaseous as Neptune or Uranus, which are mostly hydrogen and really puffy. It could be a water planet or have some other type of substantial atmosphere", explained Diana Dragomir, a Hubble Fellow at MKI and lead author of a paper describing the find.

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On the bright side, there is evidence of a second, still unconfirmed planet in the same system, this one with a much shorter 7.8-day orbit.

The new world, known as K2-288Bb, could be rocky or could be a gas-rich planet similar to Neptune.

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) recorded more than 100 short-lived changes - a lot of them likely stellar outbursts of various types - in its first observing sector.

Huang reported the findings at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington. To put it in context, Michael Fausnaugh, a pipeline scientist on TESS, discussed this in comparison to NASA's now defunct Kepler telescope.

"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 MKI. The exoplanet lies in the stellar system K2-288, which has two dim, cool stars.

Like NASA's recently departed Kepler space telescope, TESS watches for the faint dip in light that occurs when an unseen planet passes in front of a star's disk.

TESS's four cameras, designed and built by MKI and MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, spend almost a month monitoring each observing sector, a single swath of the sky measuring 24 by 96 degrees. Those planets could be the best candidates for supporting life outside our solar system.

These exoplanets will be studied so that NASA can determine the best targets for future missions, like the James Webb Space Telescope.

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