Two New Rocky Planets Discovered In Solar Neighborhood, 33 Light-Years Away

An international collaboration of researchers discovered two new super-Earths orbiting a bright red dwarf star 33 light-years away.

both objects they are among the closest rocky planets known to date outside the solar system.

These two new exoplanets, HD 260655b Yes HD 260655cwere detected using the Transiting exoplanet study satellite (TESS) from the American agency NASA, a space telescope designed to search for planets orbiting nearby bright stars using the transit method.

This system measures the attenuation of a star’s luminosity as the planet crosses the stellar disk seen from the telescopeexplains in a press release the Institute of Astrophysics of the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands (IAC), which is participating in the study.

The research, whose results are presented this Wednesday at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Pasadena (California, United States), determined that Both planets are super-Earths, that is, planets like Earth, but larger.

Planet b is about 1.2 times larger than Earth and planet c is 1.5 times larger.

However, it is unlikely that either world can support life. The temperature of planet b, the closest to the star, is estimated at 435 degrees Celsius, and that of c at 284 degrees.

At 33 light years, the exoplanets discovered they are relatively closein what is called the solar neighborhood, and its red dwarf star, although smaller than the Sun, is one of the brightest of its kind.

This makes the two planets ideal candidates to investigate their atmospheres.

According to the study, the two planets are among the top ten candidates for atmospheric characterization among all terrestrial exoplanets discovered to date.

“That puts them in the same category as one of the most famous planetary systems: the seven Earth-sized planets that surround the star. TRAPPIST-1“, explains the Spaniard Raphael Lukewho conducted the study.

These and other rocky exoplanets are already on the list of space telescope observation targets James Webbwhich will soon show scientific images.

This telescope will be able to capture data on starlight through the atmospheres of these planets.

This light can be broken down into its different frequencies (spectrum) and reveal the “fingerprints” of molecules in the atmosphere itselfbeing able to detect water, carbon and other components essential to life, details the sources of the IAC.

To confirm the existence of the two new planets, in addition to the observations made by TESS, the scientific team also used ground-based instruments, such as the CARMENES spectrographs at the Calar Alto observatory (Almería, south-eastern Spain). ‘Spain) and HIRES from WM Keck Observatory (Mauna Kea, Hawaii).

These instruments made it possible to measure the “wobble” of the star caused by the gravitational forces of the planets in orbit (radial velocity), which gives information on their masses. Combining these measures, it was also possible to determine the density and confirm that they are rocky worlds.

Although it is still unclear whether either of the two super-Earths has an atmosphere and, if so, what it is made of, the combined data from the various observational studies suggest that planets do not have dense hydrogen atmospheres.

But for the science team, it’s just an interesting clue that encourages further investigation.

“Learning more about the atmospheres of rocky planets will help scientists understand the formation and development of worlds like ours,” Luque concludes.

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