TESS Finds its First Rogue Planet

This illustration shows a rogue planet traveling through space. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (Caltech-IPAC)

Well over 5,000 planets have been found orbiting other star systems. One of the satellites hunting for them is TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Astronomers using TESS think they are made a rather surprising discovery; their first free-floating – or rogue – planet. The planet was discovered using gravitational microlensing where the planet passed in front of a star, distorting its light and revealing its presence.

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The SETI Ellipse Tells Us Where to Search for Extraterrestrial Civilizations

The SETI Ellipsoid (Image credit: Zayna Sheikh)

Of all the questions that remain unanswered, the question of life in the Universe is surely the one that captures our attention the most. In a Universe whose observable edge is 46 billion light years away, is it even conceivable that we are alone, the sole planet among the millions and perhaps billions that are out there, where life has evolved, an oasis of life in the cosmic ocean. In the search for alien civilisations, researchers have proposed that it may be possible to use bright galactic events like supernovae to act as a focal point for civilisations to announce their presence! 

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Six Planets Found Orbiting an Extremely Young Star

Artist rendering of the TOI-1136 system and its young star flaring. Credit: Rae Holcomb/Paul Robertson/UCI

The field of exoplanet study continues to grow by leaps and bounds. As of the penning of this article, 5,572 extrasolar planets have been confirmed in 4,150 systems (with another 10,065 candidates awaiting confirmation. Well, buckle up because six more exoplanets have been confirmed around TOI-1136, a Sun-like star located roughly 276 light-years from Earth. This star is less than 700 million years old, making it relatively young compared to our own (4.6 billion years). This system will allow astronomers to observe how systems like our own have evolved with time.

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Exoplanets: Why study them? What are the challenges? What can they teach us about finding life beyond Earth?

Credit: NASA/W. Stenzel

Universe Today has explored the importance of studying impact craters and planetary surfaces and what these scientific disciplines can teach us about finding life beyond Earth. We learned that impact craters are caused by massive rocks that can either create or destroy life, and planetary surfaces can help us better understand the geologic processes on other worlds, including the conditions necessary for life. Here, we will venture far beyond the confines of our solar system to the many stars that populate our Milky Way Galaxy and the worlds they orbit them, also known as exoplanets. We will discuss why astronomers study exoplanets, challenges of studying exoplanets, what exoplanets can teach us about finding life beyond Earth, and how upcoming students can pursue studying exoplanets, as well. So, why is it so important to study exoplanets?

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Half of this Exoplanet is Covered in Lava

Like Kepler-10 b, illustrated above, the exoplanet HD 63433 d is a small, rocky planet in a tight orbit of its star. HD 63433 d is the smallest confirmed exoplanet younger than 500 million years old. It's also the closest discovered Earth-sized planet this young, at about 400 million years old. NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Astronomers working with TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) have discovered a planet that’s been left out in the Sun too long. Or at least half of it has. The newly discovered planet is tidally locked to its star, and one side is completely molten.

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A Planetary System With Six Sub-Neptunes Locked in Perfect Resonance

SCIENCE & EXPLORATION Orbital geometry of HD110067 29/11/2023 457 VIEWS 19 LIKES 492309 ID LIKE DOWNLOAD XFacebookCopy LinkShare DETAILS RELATED Tracing a link between two neighbour planets at regular time intervals along their orbits, creates a pattern unique to each couple. The six planets of the HD110067 system together create a mesmerising geometric pattern due to their resonance-chain.
Credit: Thibaut Roger/NCCR PlanetS

A team of researchers led by University of Chicago astronomer Rafael Luque analyzed data acquired by both NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and ESA’s CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite (Cheops) and found a unique planetary system. Orbiting a star cataloged as HD110067, this system contains six sub-Neptune planets. Incredibly, all six planets are orbiting in direct resonance with each other. The results of the work were published on November 29 in Nature.

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This Exoplanet is Probably a Solid Ball of Metal

An illustration of the exoplanet Gliese 367 b. It's an oddball planet that may be composed entirely of iron. Image Credit: NASA

We can’t understand nature without understanding its range. That’s apparent in exoplanet science and in our theories of planetary formation. Nature’s outliers and oddballs put pressure on our models and motivate scientists to dig deeper.

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TESS Finds a Planet That Takes 482 Days to Orbit, the Widest it’s Seen so Far

An artist's rendition of the two planets and star in the TOI-4600 system. One of them has the longest orbit of any planet yet found by TESS. Image Credit: Tedi Vick

We’re rapidly learning that our Solar System, so familiar to us all, does not represent normal.

A couple of decades ago, we knew very little about other solar systems. Astronomers had discovered only a handful of exoplanets, especially around pulsars. But that all changed in the last few years.

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Astronomers Find an Earth-Sized World That May Be Carpeted in Volcanoes

LP 791-18 d, shown here in an artist's concept, is an Earth-size world about 90 light-years away. The gravitational tug from a more massive planet in the system, shown as a blue disk in the background, may result in internal heating and volcanic eruptions – as much as Jupiter’s moon Io, the most geologically active body in the solar system. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (KRBwyle)

Astronomers think they’ve found an extrasolar planet covered in volcanoes like Jupiter’s moon Io, but this world is about the same size as Earth. Designated LP 791-18 d, the planet is probably tidally locked around a small, red dwarf star about 90 light-years away in the constellation Crater. There are two other more massive planets in the system, and their tidal interactions could cause enough tidal flexing that it unleashes planet-wide volcanoes on LP 791-18 d.

Planet d is located within the habitable zone of the star, and with all the other conditions, astronomers think it might be temperate enough on the permanent night side of this world to allow water to exist.

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Two Super-Earths Found Orbiting a Red Dwarf Star at the Edge of the Habitable Zone

Illustration of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, was designed to find other worlds. Following in the tradition of the Kepler spacecraft, TESS has a hundred thousand stars looking for small but regular dips in their brightness. These dips are typically caused by planets as they pass in front of the star. TESS has been quite effective, logging nearly 6,000 candidate exoplanets. Confirming or rejecting these candidates takes time, but it has led to some interesting discoveries.

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