NASA TESS discovers third new planet HD 21749b

NASA's planet finder discovers weird new world and 6 six exploding stars

NASA's planet finder discovers weird new world and 6 six exploding stars

NASA's new planet-hunting TESS telescope has found an exoplanet three times the size of Earth only 53 light-years away.

The mission's sensitive cameras also captured 100 short-lived changes - majority likely stellar outbursts - in the same region of the sky. Six supernovae were spotted by TESS between July 25 and August 22, 2018. If confirmed, this exoplanet would be the smallest TESS has seen so far at about the size of Earth. Using ground-based telescopes, astronomers are now conducting follow-up observations on more than 280 TESS exoplanet candidates.

First up is Pi Mensae c.

The first confirmed discovery is a world called Pi Mensae c about twice Earth's size.

The brighter of the pair is about half as large and massive as the sun while the dimmer one is about a third of the solar mass and size.

Diana Dragomir, a Hubble fellow at MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research who led the discovery team, said: "It's the coolest planet we know of around a star this bright".

The new exoplanet has been dubbed HD 21749b, and is classified as a sub-Neptune planet.

An artist's visualization of the exoplanet LHS 3884b.

The new planet is twice the size of Earth.

HD 21749b also has the longest orbital period of any exoplanet found within 100 light years of us (36 days), is about three times Earth's size but 23 times its mass - and, perhaps surprisingly, it's considered nearly chilly, as exoplanets go.

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K2-288Bb lies within its star's habitable zone, meaning it is possible for it to hold liquid water.

Scientists estimate that the surface of HD 21749b is around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. K2-288Bb revolves around smaller and dimmer stars, making a complete revolution around it for 31.3 per day.

The exoplant has a 36-day long orbit around a bright star in the Reticulum constellation. This is relatively cool considering its proximity to its star.

In its primary two-year mission, TESS will observe almost the whole sky, providing a rich catalog of worlds around nearby stars. As far as what the planet may be like, the jury is still out.

TESS does this work by carving the sky up into overlapping sectors, studying each one for 27 days at a time. It was the first "hunters" for exoplanets. Six of these events, highlighted in this movie, are supernovae - exploding stars - located in distant galaxies.

Stay tuned for more news from TESS!

According to the principal investigator of TESS, George Ricker of MIT, there is a steady and high volume of information flowing in presently, and since the launch of TESS in April previous year, it has shown more promise than the Kepler Space Telescope. Its size is rare among exoplanets - planets beyond our solar system. 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.

The spacecraft could conceivably keep working for decades, Ricker says.

TESS is still in the early parts of its two-year primary mission.

"Based on the brightness and shape of that flare, there's a lot of science that can be done", Fausnaugh says.

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