Science and Nature

NASA’s TESS discovers three hot planets orbiting a very young star

NASA’s TESS discovers three hot planets orbiting a very young star thumbnail

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: February 16, 2021 8:52:38 am

This illustration sketches out the main features of TOI 451, a triple-planet system located 400 light-years away in the constellation Eridanus. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

Using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers have discovered a young star called TOI 451 with three planets revolving around it. The recently discovered mini solar system is located in the Eridanus constellation, which is a part of the Pisces-Eridanus stream.

The star of this system is 400 light-years away from us and is just 120 million years old, which makes it a lot younger when compared to our Sun. The three hot planets orbiting it were discovered while studying images taken by TESS between October and December 2018, according to a NASA statement.

The reason why astronomers are interested in exploring these planets is because their size can help them understand how planetary atmosphere evolves, given the system is not that far off from Earth.

“This system checks a lot of boxes for astronomers. It’s only 120 million years old and just 400 light-years away, allowing detailed observations of this young planetary system. And because there are three planets between two and four times Earth’s size, they make especially promising targets for testing theories about how planetary atmospheres evolve,” Elisabeth Newton, Assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, who led the research said in a press statement.

According to NASA, the nearest planet to the star, named TOI 451 b, is just 0.03 astronomical unit (AU) away and completes its orbit around in just 1.9 days. The planet is 1.9 times Earth’s size.

The second planet called TOI 451 c is three times Earth’s size and completes its orbit in 9.2 days, while the third planet TOI 451 d is four times Earth’s size and has a 16-day orbit.

The temperatures on these planets range from 1,200 degree celsius to 450 degree celsius making them inhospitable. The reason is that even TOI 451’s most distant planet orbits three times closer than Mercury ever approaches to the Sun, which results in the higher temperatures.

However, the sun of this solar system has 95 per cent of our Sun’s mass and is 12 per cent smaller in size. It also emits 35 per cent less energy and is considerably faster than our Sun completing a rotation in just 5.1 days.

The study was published in the Astronomical Journal on January 14. All the findings were made possible with the help of observations made by NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope in 2018 and 2019 along with several ground-based facilities.

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