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NASA Discovers Third New Planet

NASA'S Planet Exploration Satellite TESS Discovers A Third New Planet

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NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered a third small planet outside our solar system, scientists report.

The new planet named HD 21749b, orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star about 53 light years away in the constellation Reticulum. It appears to have the longest orbital period of the three planets so far identified by TESS.

The surface of the new planet is likely around 300 degrees Fahrenheit and is relatively cool, given its proximity to its star, which is almost as bright as the sun, said the team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

“It’s the coolest small planet that we know of around a star this bright,” said lead researcher Diana Dragomir, a post-doctoral student at the MIT.

HD 21749b journeys around its star in a relatively leisurely 36 days, compared to the two other planets — Pi Mensae b, a “super-Earth” with a 6.3-day orbit, and LHS 3844b, a rocky world that speeds around its star in just 11 hours

The planet is about three times the size of Earth, which puts it in the category of a “sub-Neptune”. Surprisingly, it is also a whopping 23 times as massive as Earth.

But it is unlikely that the planet is rocky and therefore habitable; it’s more likely made of gas, of a kind that is much more dense than the atmospheres of either Neptune or Uranus.

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Representational Image, VOA

“We think this planet wouldn’t be as gaseous as Neptune or Uranus, which are mostly hydrogen and really puffy,” Dragomir said. “The planet likely has a density of water, or a thick atmosphere.”

The researchers have also detected evidence of a second planet, though not yet confirmed, in the same planetary system, with a shorter, 7.8-day orbit. If it is confirmed as a planet, it could be the first Earth-sized planet discovered by TESS.

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The scientists announced the results at the annual American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.

Launched in April 2018 for a two-year mission, TESS will survey nearly the entire sky by monitoring and piecing together overlapping slices of the night sky. (IANS)

 

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NASA Selects Missions to Study Sun, its Effects on Space Weather

One of the selected missions will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system

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The launch date for the two missions is no later than August 2022, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday. Pixabay

NASA has selected two new missions to study the Sun and its dynamic effects on space weather.

The launch date for the two missions is no later than August 2022, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.

One of the selected missions will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system and a second will study the Earth’s response.

“These missions will do big science, but they’re also special because they come in small packages, which means that we can launch them together and get more research for the price of a single launch,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington.

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NASA has selected two new missions to study the Sun and its dynamic effects on space weather. Pixabay

The Sun generates a vast outpouring of solar particles known as the solar wind, which can create a dynamic system of radiation in space called space weather.

Near Earth, where such particles interact with our planet’s magnetic field, the space weather system can lead to profound impact on human interests, such as astronauts’ safety, radio communications, GPS signals and utility grids on the ground.

The more we understand what drives space weather and its interaction with the Earth and lunar systems, the more we can mitigate its effects – including safeguarding astronauts and technology crucial to NASA’s Artemis programme to the Moon.

One of the two missions that NASA has selected is the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH. This mission will focus directly on the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, and how it generates the solar wind.

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The second mission is Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, or TRACERS. The TRACERS investigation was partially selected as a NASA-launched rideshare mission, meaning it will be launched as a secondary payload with PUNCH.

TRACERS will observe particles and fields at the Earth’s northern magnetic cusp region – the region encircling the Earth’s pole, where our planet’s magnetic field lines curve down towards the Earth, NASA said. (IANS)