Learn More About The New Worlds TESS Has Discovered


The planet, as well as two other planets, was found by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a satellite that has only been observing space for three months.

K2-288 is now the third transiting planet system identified through the Exoplanet Explorers program, a project where ordinary citizens can search Kepler's K2 observations to find new transiting planets.

Citizen scientists have discovered a potentially habitable exoplanet roughly twice the size of Earth, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Monday.

An unconfirmed sighting of a smaller, Earth-sized world was also found orbiting the star every 8 days but experts are yet to find conclusive evidence.

The surface of the new planet is likely around 300 degrees Fahrenheit - relatively cool, given its proximity to its star, which is nearly as bright as the sun.

Diana Dragomir, who led a research paper into the discovery, said this presented an exciting opportunity for researchers. It orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star about 53 light years away in the Reticulum constellation, and is thought to have a surface temperature of about 1,650C (3,000F). The brighter star is about half as massive and large as the Sun, while its companion is about one-third the Sun's mass and size.

In 2017, Feinstein and Makennah Bristow, an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina Asheville, worked as interns with Joshua Schlieder, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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All data from the Kepler mission is run through an algorithm to locate potential planets, however more manpower was needed to sift through all the possible planet 'transits'. 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.

It turned out that they did not analyze all of the data. During its K2 mission, Kepler repositioned itself toward a new patch of sky once every three months. Astronomers were initially concerned that this repositioning would cause systematic errors in measurements.

Zoom into the first sky sector observed by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and learn more about the new worlds it has discovered.

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. The size of the new world is also a rarity: 1.9 times the Earth's size and half of Neptune's. This places the planet within a recently discovered category called the Fulton gap, or radius gap.

Two other planet's spotted by TESS have been labelled LHS 3884b and Pi Mensae c. Since K2-288Bb's radius places it in this gap, it may provide a case study of planetary evolution within this size range.

Even though the Kepler spacecraft ceased operations months ago, after almost a decade in service, its legacy continues: Today, researchers announced that they have found a planet roughly twice as big as Earth, located within what could be its parent star's habitable zone.

The discovery, discussed at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and in pre-print at arXiv, is just one of several now coming thick and fast for TESS.