Universe Guide

First possible exoplanets discovered by TESS telescope announced

N.A.S.A. has revealed the first two candidate planets to have been spotted by TESS - Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite that was launched earlier this year on a two year mission. The mission is to discover probable candidate exoplanets, planets that lie in orbit round other stars.

The two stars are candidate stars as Earth based scientists will need to follow up to confirm their existence. It is expected that TESS will identify thousands of stars as it searches the cosmos for planets.

Pi Mensae c

The first is around the star Pi Mensae, a star in the constellation of Mensa. It is a star that you can see when you look up to the skies but you will not be able to see any of the planets that are in orbit round the star because they are too small. It is believed that the planets are not suitable for life so we'll need to look elsewhere for aliens.

The planet is labelled c because it is the second planet to have been discovered in orbit round the star. The letter a is reserved for the star itself, planets start from b. The star itself is located in the southern hemisphere therefore it will not be visible to many people in the northern hemisphere.

The planet is a Super-Earth because it is bigger than our own planet. The planet is close to the star and completes an orbit in 6.27 days compared to 365.4 days that the Earth completes its year. It is therefore too close and hot to support life as we know it. Further reading can be done at Arxiv.

Location of Pi Mensae in the constellation of Mensa

LHS 3844

The second star that has been discovered to contain a star is LHS 3844. It is a smaller red dwarf star and is cooler and smaller than our own Sun. The planet is described as a Hot Earth meaning its size is roughly the same as that of Earth. The Hot means its temperature is well, hot, hotter than anything on this Earth, too hot for life to exist as we know it. The planet orbits its star in 11 hours which you can imagine is very fast.

Unlike Pi Mensae, this is not a eye visible star, you will need visual aids such as a telescope to see it. If you do want to try and look for the star, it is located in the constellation of Indus, the Indian in the southern hemisphere. Both constellations are not next to one another. Further reading can be found at Arxiv.

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