It’s been almost ten years since the launch of the mission of NASA “Kepler”. Since 2009, this spacecraft observed the hundreds of thousands of stars in our own galaxy, measuring the total amount of luminous flux for each of them and watching for any changes. By the end of the mission, “Kepler” and its additional K2 Missy discovered thousands of new planets near stars outside of our system, including many potentially habitable worlds the size of Earth.
If “Kepler” has shown us that our galaxy is full of planets, it is the successor mission called TESS — Transiting Survey Satellite — will show transit worlds near the closest to us stars. If there is any Earth-like the world passing in front of its home star in the line of our vision, TESS will show this. The first time we can see the abundance of planets that are scattered literally under our noses.
Telescope TESS went to work
The search for “Kepler” was a wonderful adventure: he sought in the narrow field of view, covering a distance of 3000 light years. His main mission was to continuously view the same field of view for many years. Catching a total of more than 100,000 stars, Kepler was looking for systematic, periodic dips in the total amount of light coming from each star. If something was detected, this potentially indicated the presence of a planet with the size and period of failures corresponding to the radius and orbital distance to the planet.
But TESS is different. Instead of studying a narrow strip of the sky, TESS is studying the sky as a whole, sector by sector to find the planet around the nearest stars to us. If near any of the stars within about 200 light-years from us will be properly aligned relative to us, the planet, TESS sees it, identifying the radius and the distance to orbit. Moreover, each opening of TESS, which gives us the planet also gives us the system of candidates, looking at that future of the Observatory — a space telescope like the James Webb will be able to try to find signs of life.
TESS launched in April 2018 by searching new worlds. His first collection of scientific data began in July, almost six months later it released its first dataset. It is expected that in the course of his life, TESS will find thousands of new planets near thousand stars, gas giants the size of Jupiter to small solid worlds of the size of the Earth.
When considering the first six segments, TESS found this:
- more than 300 planets candidates;
- 8 confirmed planets;
- including several giant planets;
- some of them a little more Land.
But the numbers don’t make the opening something out of the ordinary. Just looking at them in detail, we can appreciate the phenomenal science that supplies us with TESS.
Pi Mensae c
The first confirmed planet was Pi Mensae c, which orbits a star very similar to ours. Pi Mensae by weight only 10% more than our Sun and is 20% larger. It is very similar to our star, but her system is very different. Blocking a small part of its light, Pi Mensae c is extremely close to its star, turning around with a period of only 6.3 days. This is about twice the radius of the Earth and almost five times more massive, which implies a fairly typical situation for hot worlds size somewhere between Earth and Neptune.
But this is not typical; it is significant. Back in 2001, was discovered a large planet that violate the orbit of Pi Mensae: Pi Mensae b. It was one of the most massive planets ever discovered: in 10 times Jupiter’s mass. Its orbit is very eccentric, she takes her farther than Jupiter from the Sun (of 5.54.e.) the but it is closer than Earth to the Sun (of 1.21.e.) in periastron.
Now, when Pi Mensae c found TESS, we met both distant and close to the planet in the system with such different properties and orbits. The leading theory is that the planet formed close in nearly perfect circular orbits, but to create a bizarre planet with the mass of Jupiter (or larger), something had to interfere in this process.
Pi Mensae system is currently the most extreme of the known in this respect, and the mystery of how such systems come to such a configuration, will certainly become the subject of numerous studies and discussions in the future.
The most extreme planet discovered — LHS 3884b, which is only slightly bigger than Earth with a radius of 1.3 of the earth. She is so close to the parent star that rotates every 11 hours. Located at a distance of 49 light years from us, this world is so hot that it turned to the star side can be filled with pools of molten lava in the hottest places. This world is so hot that at least in theory, its very species is in a liquid state.
Although it is unlikely that a planet with properties of mass and temperature has the atmosphere, it can present in fine form on a regular basis, depending on the chemical composition of the surface. The characteristics of this system make it an ideal candidate for measuring the spectrum absorption of the atmosphere. If the atmosphere is, we can learn what it is before it will be brought to the telescopes.
HD 21749 entries
What is most impressive TESS gave us the next star that need be watched: HD 21749 entries. Located some 53 light years, this star is smaller and less massive than the Sun: about 70% less. A star of class K, it should not bombard the planet at hand catastrophic outbreaks or tidal block them; if at the right distance from this star was a world the size of Earth, it would be a great chance for the origin of life.
On the eve of New academic Year, team TESS has released the work, marking the discovery of the planet orbiting the star HD 21749 entriesb, 36-day orbit and 2.84 radius of the Earth. This world, a little less of Neptune, was confirmed by subsequent observations, which have determined that its mass is at 23.2 times the mass of Earth, making it smaller, but more massive and denser than Uranus or Neptune.
This is interesting for a number of reasons. First, at these distances the temperature should be warm, but not hot, about 150 degrees Celsius. Second, this is dlinnoplodny of all known planet within 100 light-years from Earth. And, perhaps, the most interesting thing is that there is a hint of a signal and possible planet candidate in the system HD 21749 entries. Additional candidate, if confirmed, will have a period of 8 days and a radius approximately equal to the earth.
If this planet exists, it will be the first world of earth’s size, discovered TESS: the smallest of those that found this telescope.
The ultimate goal of TESS is to find Earth-like worlds and star systems, which can be a solid, potentially habitable worlds. As TESS optimized for the search closest to us stars, his greatest discoveries will be among the first goals for the future, the most powerful observatories that will be able not only to find these worlds, but also to measure their atmospheric content. If we’re lucky, some of these worlds will contain water, methane, carbon dioxide or even oxygen in the atmosphere.
No one is saying that these worlds are bound to be inhabited, but TESS will take us a step closer to finding the next worlds, which may be the greatest hope of mankind for detection of life outside our Solar system. Those worlds we’ve found so far, absolutely adorable. TESS is already starting to justify the highest expectations, even after a few months after launch.
Just imagine if we can find a second Earth within some 200 light years from us. We will plan the mission? Tell us in our chat in Telegram.