NASA's TESS Planet Hunting Satellite Discovers Third New Exoplanet

TESS Discovers Third New Planet

Weird 'Sub-Neptune' Exoplanet Discovered by NASA Space Telescope

A timely reminder of that fact comes in the form of an all-new exoplanet discovery made by citizen scientists who dedicated their time to combing through Kepler's logs.

Researchers have also detected evidence of a second planet, with a shorter, 7.8-day orbitin the same planetary system, though it is yet to be confirmed.

"We think this planet wouldn't be as gaseous as Neptune or Uranus, which are mostly hydrogen and really puffy", Dragomir says.

"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. The first two candidates - known as Pi Mensae c and LHS 3844b - were reported in September, and they've now taken their place as the first two confirmed planets on TESS' list.

Citizen scientists have discovered a potentially habitable exoplanet about twice the size of Earth, located 226 light-years away, that may have liquid water on its surface.

The satellite trains its four onboard cameras on each sector for 27 days, taking in light from the stars in that particular segment before shifting to view the next one.

During its initial two-year mission, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will observe almost the entire sky, looking for transit-a phenomenon that occurs when a planet passes in front of its star, causing a dip in the star's brightness.

As scientists learned how to correct for these systematic errors, this trimming step was eliminated - but the early K2 data Barstow studied had been clipped. For their new analysis, the researchers looked through this data, collected between July 25 and October 14.

Tiny dips in the brightness of a star during a transit can help scientists determine the orbit and size of the planet, as well as the size of the star. As the satellite only collects data from a sector for 27 days, it's hard to identify planets with orbits longer than that time period; by the time a planet passes around again, the satellite may have shifted to view another slice of the sky.

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The planet is in the K2-288 system, which contains a pair of dim, cool M-type stars that are 5.1 billion miles apart, about six times the distance between Saturn and the sun.

Volunteers re-examined the observation data, which is when they came across the new planet. They had noticed the same system and its two transits.

The newfound planet K2-288Bb, illustrated here, is slightly smaller than Neptune.

They also used data from the Planet Finder Spectrograph, an instrument installed on the Magellan Telescope in Chile, to further validate their findings and constrain the planet's mass and orbit.

Scientists are already working on followup observations for more than 280 planet candidates that TESS has found.

Huang said several more planets have had their status confirmed, but she didn't provide specifics. "TESS found as many in its first month".

So the reprocessed, "cleaned-up" light curves were uploaded through the Exoplanet Explorers project on online platform Zooniverse, and the public was invited to "go forth and find us planets", Feinstein said.

He continued: "Re-orienting Kepler relative to the Sun caused minuscule changes in the shape of the telescope and the temperature of the electronics, which inevitably affected Kepler' sensitive measures in the first days of each campaign". More than a dozen universities, research institutes, and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

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