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Unique exoplanet ‘covered by ocean’

Unique exoplanet 'covered by ocean'

An international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a very interesting exoplanet. This world is called TOI-1452 b and orbits a small star in a nearby binary system, only 100 light-years from Earth. The planet appears to be larger and heavier than the Earth. It orbits its host star in what’s called the ecosphere – the region around the star where prevailing conditions allow liquid water to exist, which may aid the emergence and development of living things. Astronomers believe that its entire surface is covered with water.

A description of the discovery appeared in the pages of “The Astronomical Journal” (DOI: 10.3847 / 1538-3881 / ac7cea).

“I am very proud of this discovery because it demonstrates the high skill of our researchers,” said René Doyon of the University of Montreal and director of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) and the Mont Magnetic Observatory (OMM). “Thanks to the special OMM instrument designed in our laboratories and the innovative analytical method developed by our research team, we were able to discover this unique exoplanet,” he added.

The team of researchers estimates that the planet is made up of about 30 percent. from water. It orbits its star in 11 days and is located in the habitable zone where temperatures are neither too high nor too low for liquid water to exist on its surface. If the observations are correct, then it is likely that this planet is covered by an ocean.

“TOI-1452 b is one of the best candidate planets we’ve discovered so far,” said Charles Cadieux of the University of Montreal, lead author. “The radius and mass of the planet indicate a much lower density than would be expected for a planet composed primarily of metal and rock, such as Earth,” he added.

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The TESS space telescope, which explores the entire sky in search of planetary systems similar to ours, sometimes called “Planet Hunter,” has led astronomers to trace the planet’s path. Based on the TESS signal, which showed a slight decrease in the brightness of one of the binaries every 11 days, astronomers have identified a hitherto unknown exoplanet. – OMM played a key role in confirming the nature of this signal and estimating the radius of the planet. It was not a routine examination. We needed to make sure that the signal detected by TESS was indeed caused by an exoplanet orbiting TOI-1452, which is the two largest stars in this binary system, Cudio pointed out.

The host star TOI-1452 is much smaller than our Sun and is one of two stars of similar size in this binary system. Both are red dwarfs. They orbit closely around each other. They are separated by about 97 AU – about 2.5 times the distance between the Sun and Pluto. TESS sees it as a single point of light. But the decision of the instruments used by Montreal scholars, incl. The PESTO camera mounted on the OMM telescope is long enough to distinguish between the two objects. Moreover, thanks to the use of these advanced instruments, scientists discovered an exoplanet orbiting TOI-1452, which was confirmed by subsequent observations by the Japanese team.

TOI-1452 b is likely a rocky planet like Earth, but its radius, mass, and density suggest that the world is very different from ours. Earth is basically a very dry world and although we sometimes call it the blue planet because about 70 percent of its surface is covered by the ocean, water makes up only a tiny part of its mass – less than 1 percent.

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Diana Valencia and Mikhaisho Plotnikov of the University of Toronto specialize in modeling the interiors of exoplanets. TOI-1452 b analysis shows that water can make up as much as 30 percent. Its mass is similar to some natural satellites of our solar system, such as the moons of Jupiter – Ganymede and Callisto, and the moons of Saturn – Titan and Enceladus.

An exoplanet such as TOI-1452 b is an ideal candidate for further observations with the James Webb Space Telescope. It is one of the few known planets outside the solar system with a temperate climate. It’s close enough to Earth that scientists hope to study its atmosphere. Fortunately, it is located in an area of ​​the sky that a telescope can observe all year round.

“Our observations on Webb will be essential to a better understanding of TOI-1452b. As quickly as possible, we will make time on Webb to observe this strange and wonderful world,” Doyon said.

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