The NASA’s TESS space telescope, which has been on a two-year exploration mission since April last year, found a planet outside the solar system, an exoplanet, located at 53 light years away from the Earth, as scientists reported today.
TESS, developed by the US Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), detected an exoplanet that the mission’s researcher, Diana Dragomir, described as a “strange rock and gas ball” by about three times the size of Earth.
The finding was released in Seattle at the US Astronomical Society meeting. The MIT researcher said the exoplanet, named HD 21749b, revolves around a star in the constellation Reticulum and completes a full orbit in 36 days. Diana Dragomir explained that, according to the scientists’ calculations, the temperature on the distant planet’s surface is approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit or roughly 150 degrees Celsius.
NASA’s TESS Space Telescope Spotted A Super-Earth Exoplanet At 53 Light Years Away From Us
“It is the coldest little planet we know of around such a bright star,” said Dragomir, cited by CNN. The scientist considers that she and her colleagues were lucky enough to be able to capture an image of HD 21749b and study it.
The team of astronomers also detected indications of what could be the second planet in that solar system, with a much faster orbit, as that second exoplanet would orbit its host star in just 7.8 days. This exoplanet might be the first one of the size of the Earth that has been discovered by NASA’s TESS.
The NASA’s TESS space telescope, which searches for exoplanets orbiting stars situated less than 300 light years away from Earth, is based on data already collected by the Kepler Space Telescope, which has been in Earth’s orbit for nine years and has confirmed the existence of more than 2,600 exoplanets.
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