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Astronomers have discovered a new "super-Earth" that may be habitable

Astronomers have discovered a new “super-Earth” that may be habitable

A new “super-Earth” has been discovered, and it's not very far away by astronomical standards. In addition, it is also located in the livable area. It's hopeful news when it comes to discovering extraterrestrial life.

Planet Hunter Tess (Transit of the exoplanet survey satellite) TOI-715 came b Recently on the road. The planet is about one and a half times the size of Earth and revolves around a red dwarf star about 137 light-years away. There may be another planet, roughly the same size as ours. But interest is now mainly focused on the planet TOI-715 b, which is located in the habitable zone. This is an important criterion for the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life, because the temperature allows the presence of liquid water on the surface of the planet.

Liveable area
The habitable zone is the region around a star where it is neither too hot nor too cold, where water is liquid and does not freeze or evaporate. Astronomers also call it the Goldilocks zone, because it is in a story Goldilocks and the Three Bears The girl must taste three bowls of porridge. The first is too hot and the second is too cold, but the third bowl of porridge has just the right temperature.

A more conservative view
But of course you still have a long way to go from there. Things have to go well for there to be water on the planet. There must also be a suitable atmosphere. For this reason a habitable area has also been defined, which is a narrower and perhaps better definition. Also according to this definition, TOI-715 b is in first place. It is also possible that the smaller planet is still in the habitable zone. It would therefore be the smallest planet in such a region discovered by TESS so far. Therefore, the discovery exceeds expectations. Astronomers never expected to find such a small planet at such a close distance from its star.

Tess power
TESS has been searching the skies since 2018 for exoplanets that might contain water. TOI-715 b is certainly no exception. Just last month it was announced that NASA's Large Space Telescope had discovered sixty new exoplanets located in the habitable zone around its star.

The latest discovery is a little more special. The planet orbits a red dwarf, which is smaller and cooler than our sun. It is known that such stars are often orbited by small rocky planets. They are currently our best option for finding habitable planets. Because red dwarf stars are much cooler, it is possible for planets to be closer and still be in the habitable zone. This also means that they orbit faster around their star. For example, a year in TOI-715 b lasts only nineteen days. This makes it easier for TESS to find and study the planet, because the telescope watches the moment the planet passes in front of its star, blocking the light. This would be impossible to do, for example, for a planet like Earth and would always have to wait 365 days.

James Webb in the corner
But TESS is just the first step. Astronomers have begun a whole new chapter in knowledge of exoplanets. For example, they now have the James Webb Telescope, which not only helps find distant worlds, but can also say something about their properties, such as the composition of the atmosphere.

The planet TOI-175 b is therefore immediately on a web list for further study, looking for signs of an atmosphere. Although much also depends on other properties of the planet, such as its density and whether it can be defined as a “water world.” This makes its atmosphere, if it exists, more prominent and less difficult to detect than if it were a more massive, denser, drier world, keeping its atmosphere closer to the surface.

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In short, there is still a lot to investigate before we truly know if this giant Earth has more to offer.