NASA celebrates 'hat trick' discovery of new planets orbiting nearby star

Planetary system around quiet star ideal for habitability searches

NASA celebrates 'hat trick' discovery of new planets orbiting nearby star

TOI 270 d is 2.1 Earth radii and "only" 150F.

Compare to our sun TOI-270 system is 40% less massive as well as it is up to a third cooler. The global team of scientists collected Earth-based telescopic data going back two decades - to reveal the newly found exoplanets' tiny gravitational tugs on its host star, according to NASA.

An illustration of the TOI-270 system, located about 73 light-years away in the southern constellation Pictor.

That uninhabitable world was the only one around this star spotted by TESS, which scans the skies looking for dips in a star's light that might indicate that a planet is passing, or transiting, in front of it.

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite has found a star, generally known as "Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite Object of Interest 270", or TOI 270, 73 light-years away from Earth that has three exoplanets orbiting it, together with a so-called "super-Earth" and two others which are described as Neptune-like. Earth is the largest of the rocky inner planets, while Neptune is the runt of the gas giants that orbit farther from the Sun.

The smaller planet is in fact in the habitable zone, meaning it's at a distance from a star that is warm enough to heat its water to a liquid state.

"This star is quiet and very close to us, and therefore much brighter than the host stars of comparable systems", he added. Since its launch in April 2018, TESS has definitively identified more than 20 exoplanets orbiting stars within about 300 light-years of Earth, with hundreds more awaiting confirmation-and the satellite is only at the midpoint of its mission. They are 2.4 and 2.1 times larger than Earth and orbit TOI 270 every 5.7 and 11.4 days, respectively. "With extended follow-up observations, we'll soon be able to determine the make-up of these worlds, establish if atmospheres are present and what gases they contain, and more". At this point in time, scientists believe TOI 270 b, which is 1.25 Earth's radii, likely has a rocky landscape and a blistering temperature of 490F. Scientists estimated that it has an equilibrium temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

TESS has found 24 new planets.

Without an atmosphere, it has an equilibrium temperature of -64 F (-53 C), which would make the planet seem more glacial than habitable.

"The pace and productivity of TESS in its first year of operations has far exceeded our most optimistic hopes for the mission", said George Ricker, TESS' principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It will be observable by Webb for over half a year, which could allow for really interesting comparison studies between the atmospheres of TOI 270 c and d".

However, if GJ 357 d does turn out to have an atmosphere, this could be a game changer, according to a report that will be published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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