NASA Pronounces Discovery Of ‘Super-Earth’

Scientists wonder if another planet could have an Earth-like atmosphere.  A new finding from NASA has bolstered the likelihood.

A possibly habitable planet designated TOI-715 b was reported by NASA on January 31. The agency noted in a statement that the planet is rather near to Earth at 137 light-years distant, which is considered close from an astronomical perspective.

The space exploration group reports that the planet is somewhat wider than Earth, measuring around 1½ times the width.

Super-Earths are characterized by their mass being more than Earth’s but less than that of ice giants like Uranus and Neptune. Their composition might be gas, rock, or a mix of the two. An official NASA estimate puts their mass at ten times that of Earth and their size at two to three times that.

According to NASA, within the theoretical habitable zone—the distance from the Sun at which the planet’s surface temperature would be just right for the development of liquid water—it circles a tiny reddish star.  According to NASA, one of the several crucial factors for water to develop is temperature.

Due to the closeness of the orbit, one year is only 19 days long.

Possible habitability is enhanced by the presence of an additional Earth-sized planet in the same system.  If verified, this second planet will surpass all previous discoveries made by TESS in terms of the size of the habitable zone, as reported by NASA.

Established in 2018, the acronym TESS refers to the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.  The mission of TESS, as stated by NASA, is to find thousands of exoplanets around the dwarf stars.

Additional investigation into this finding is necessary to learn more about the exoplanets’ characteristics. The James Webb Space Telescope does deeper observations.

University of Birmingham, UK’s Georgina Dransfield spearheaded the study that found the super-Earth, and the results were published in January’s “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” publication.

According to NASA, the results show that astronomers have made significant progress in their quest to learn about the features of exoplanets outside our solar system and the atmospheric conditions necessary to support life.