Discover a potential ‘ocean world’ 100 light years from Earth

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Reconnaissance Satellite mission is simply surreal. Imagine traveling thousands of years back and then explaining to someone how future scientists would have a machine that would discover alien worlds floating at distances beyond human imagination.

This is Tess.

Since 2018, this space instrument has actually found thousands of exoplanets. We have eyes on one shaped like a rugby ballanother apparently covered in lava oceans Even the orb that rain glass – Sideways.

On Wednesday, international scientists announced that one of these alien worlds, which Tess has faithfully hunted, may be covered in a mantle of the elixir of life: water.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m flashing back to that scene in Interstellar where Cooper descends on a world with waves the size of skyscrapers.

This is a potential “ocean world,” according to the team’s study, published this month in Astronomical Journal, lives about 100 light-years from Earth, and orbits within a binary star system located in the constellation of Draco. Named TOI-1452 b, it is suspected to be about 70% larger than our planet, because its mass is about five times greater, rotates at the rhythm of seven Earth days and is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on its surface.

A lava-covered exoplanet walking close to a host star.

Photograph of a rocky exoplanet discovered by TESS in the past. It may be covered with oceans of lava – and it may even have rain of lava.

NASA

But the kicker is that Its density appears to be consistent With an incredibly deep ocean—either that, or it’s a massive rock with little to no atmosphere or potentially an atmosphere built with hydrogen and helium, according to NASA.

“TOI-1452 b is one of the best candidates for the ocean planet we’ve discovered so far,” Charles Cadeaux, lead author of the study and doctoral student at the University of Montreal and a member of the university’s Institute for Exoplanet Research, said. He said Wednesday in a press release. “Its radius and mass indicate a density much lower than one would expect for a planet composed primarily of metal and rock, such as Earth.”

If this hypothesis is correct – that TOI-1452 b is suitable for fulfilling Poseidon’s dreams – it will be similar to some places in our solar system. Enceladus, the bright and frozen moon of Saturn, is believed to host a global ocean of salt water beneath the Earth’s surface. ice shield. And the Ganymedeone of Jupiter’s glowing companions and the largest moon in our cosmic neighbourhood, boasts its expanse of frigid water.

Sounds like a job for Webb Space Telescope

Although discoveries of exoplanets have been pouring in for the past few years, there’s an extra level of excitement when scientists find one today.

That’s because we now have the James Webb Space Telescope, another incredible machine located a million miles from Earth that is deciphering the secrets of the universe – cosmic data hidden under the guise of infrared light.

“In a stroke of luck,” the press release states, TOI-1452 b “is located in an area of ​​the sky that the telescope can observe all year round.”

“Our observations using the Webb Telescope will be essential to a better understanding of TOI-1452 b,” René Doyon, director of iREx at the University of Montreal, author of the latest study and team member responsible for one of the key pieces of equipment at JWST, said in the statement. “As soon as possible, we will reserve time on Webb to observe this strange and wonderful world.”

With JWST, Doyon and fellow researchers hope to study this exoplanet’s atmosphere in better detail and test whether it really is a fascinating world of liquid water. According to the team, it is one of the few known temperate planets with characteristics consistent with an ocean planet. This is why it is so confusing to meditate.

Spectral data for WASP-96b.

Along with its first set of impressive images, the James Webb Space Telescope has captured spectroscopic data of an exoplanet called WASP-96b. Spectral data does not show us what something looks like, but rather what it would be like to have it in its vicinity.

NASA

Moreover, TOI-1452 b is expected to have such a cold climate that the star it orbits in a binary star system is much smaller than our Sun, and does not go astray. very Far from the planet of interest. The study authors say that this ball of gas lies at a distance from its stellar partner about one and a half times the distance between the Sun and Pluto.

Surprisingly, this whole situation was complex enough that TESS needed some support to write the TOI-1452b story. The researchers needed to call on some other high-tech gadget – which would also destroy the minds of our ancient virtual audience – such as Mont-Megantic’s Observatoire du Mont-Megantic. besto camera. This device specializes in the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

“OMM has played a critical role in confirming the nature of this signal and estimating the planet’s radius,” Cadeaux said. “This was not a routine check. We had to confirm that the signal detected by TESS was indeed from an exoplanet orbiting TOI-1452, the two largest stars in that binary system.”

JWST, this (aquatic) world may be your oyster.

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