NASA spots Super-Earth, says ‘right temperature for water to form’. But is it habitable?

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Super-Earth – a planet that is about 30 to 70% bigger than our planet – has recently been spotted by a NASA telescope orbiting Earth.

The Super-Earth or exoplanet TOI-715 b, which is about 1.5 times the size of Earth, is in another solar system 137 light-years away.

NASA said, “That’s the distance from the star that could give the planet the right temperature for liquid water to form on its surface.”

However, “Several other factors would have to line up, of course, for surface water to be present, especially having a suitable atmosphere.”

TOI-715 b orbits closely to its star in 19 days. However, scientists don’t think its a hellish as unlike other hot exoplanets, its star, a red dwarf, is cooler and smaller than the Sun, suggesting different conditions.

 

Researchers published the planet’s detection in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. However, since we are many light years away we can only see this distant world as a dark dot when it periodically passes in front of its red dwarf star.

And, crucially, this world orbits inside the habitable, or “‘Goldilocks,” zone, as per scientists.

Astronomers are concentrating their search for habitable planets on rocky worlds orbiting cooler red dwarfs, which often have shorter orbital periods, some as brief as 19 days. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is well-suited for detecting the transits of these planets.

Currently, these rocky planets around red dwarfs represent the best chance for discovering habitable conditions. The next step involves a detailed examination of TOI-715 b using the powerful James Webb Space Telescope, positioned approximately 1 million miles from Earth, capable of providing insights into the atmospheres of distant exoplanets.

“They are indeed very exciting planets,” Renyu Hu, an exoplanet researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Mashable in 2022.

 

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Published: 10 Feb 2024, 12:29 PM IST

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