NASA TESS mission discovers new Saturn-sized planet

29 Mars, 2019, 10:35 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • NASA TESS mission discovers new Saturn-sized planet

The astronomers suggested that, as the star expands, the planet might puff up from the heat to an even larger size, joining a class of large, low-density gas giants orbiting red giants that Kepler discovered. Illustration by Gabriel Perez Diaz, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. Pictured: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a TESS spacecraft lifts off on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"This is the first bucketful of water from the fire hose of data we're getting from TESS", Steve Kawaler, a professor of astronomy at Iowa State University and co-author of a paper on the new research, said in a statement.

A team of asteroseismologists - astronomers who study seismic waves, also called "starquakes" - have found and characterized the first planet identified by TESS with a host star with measurable oscillations.

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS is showing great potential in helping scientists find new planets, the latest of which is dubbed the "hot Saturn". The planet is similar in size to Saturn and is very close to its star, completing an orbit in just 14 days, which creates a high surface temperature.

The Astronomical Journal will publish the paper written by an worldwide team of 141 astronomers.

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Daniel Huber, an assistant astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Institute for Astronomy, led the study on TOI 197.01. The primary objective of TESS is to look for planets outside our solar system and possibly provide more leads to help discover alien life.

The spacecraft's four cameras are taking almost month-long looks at 26 vertical strips of the sky - first over the southern hemisphere and then over the northern. After two years, TESS will have scanned 85 percent of the sky. NASA's Kepler Mission - a predecessor to TESS - looked for planets in the same way, but scanned a narrow slice of the Milky Way galaxy and focused on distant stars.

According to the astronomers, these findings offer a glimpse of what TESS can do. That data can be combined with other observations and measurements to determine the properties of orbiting planets.

According to the new paper, the planet is around five billion years old and is bigger and heavier than the sun. "Maybe we can also look at the very faint stars - the white dwarfs - that are my first love and represent the future of our sun and solar system".

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