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A research team discovers a “super-Earth” in the habitable zone

A research team discovers a “super-Earth” in the habitable zone

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NASA discovers a super-Earth in our cosmic neighborhood. Because it is located in the habitable zone of its star, it is of research interest.

BIRMINGHAM – All eyes are once again turning to the depths of space, where a remarkable discovery awaits us: a “super-Earth” called TOI-715 b orbiting a red dwarf star just 137 light-years away, and therefore as far from science as advertised. Being within reach. This discovery can According to NASA This not only deepens our understanding of exoplanets, but also provides clues about the possibility of life.

An international team of scientists led by Georgina Drensfield from the University of Birmingham published in the journal in January 2024 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society An article about their discovery. Various international facilities were used to confirm the planet's existence, including the Gemini South telescopes, the Las Cumbres Observatory telescopes, the “additional” telescopes, the Speculus network, and the TRAPPIST SOUTH telescope, which ultimately verified the discovery.

The search for life: Is there a second Earth? © Imago Pictures

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TOI-715 b is about one and a half times the size of Earth and lies within the “conservative” habitable zone around its red dwarf star. This region is the ideal distance that could allow the planet to have liquid water on its surface, which is a basic condition for the existence of life. Although other factors such as atmosphere play a role, its conservative habitable zone puts it in a favorable position for more detailed study.

TOI-715 b is supposed to be located directly next to another planet, which could be slightly larger than Earth and also be within the habitable zone. the Calculated orbits for both planets It now offers researchers a unique opportunity to learn more about the diversity and habitability of exoplanets.

Illustration showing a star and a possible representation of the planet TOI-715 b
This illustration shows what TOI-715 b, a super-Earth planet located in the habitable zone around its star, might look like to a nearby observer. © NASA/JPL, Caltech

TOI-715 b: Exoplanets are particularly interesting for research

TOI-715 b could appear at just the right time. Its parent star, a red dwarf, is smaller and cooler than our sun. Red dwarfs are promising candidates for the search for habitable planets because they can host small rocky worlds. Narrower orbits also allow for more frequent transits, making such planets easier to detect and observe.

What is transit?

A transit is when an object crosses in front of another object in space. This can be done in several different ways. An example of this is when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. An example of a transit is a solar eclipse: the Moon “crosses” the Sun.

Planets outside our solar system are called exoplanets. When the planet's orbit is perfectly aligned, the planet will pass in front of the star it orbits (transit). Searching for transits is one of the methods researchers use to discover exoplanets. During the transit, the star's light dims by a very small amount. This attenuation can be measured.

Source: NASA

The discovery of TOI-715 b joins the list of planets found as part of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) project. TESS has been actively searching for exoplanets in the habitable zone since its launch in 2018. The discovery of TOI-715 b exceeds expectations because it is an Earth-sized world located in the habitable zone that can now be studied in more detail. (Syrian Pound)