Special super-earth discovered – Nasa calls it “key planet”

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Created: 01/12/2023, 2:18 p.m

Von: Tanya Banner


The surface of the super-Earth TOI-1075 b could consist of molten lava. (Artist’s rendering) © Imago/Science Photo Library

A newly discovered exoplanet turns out to be a “real giant”. NASA declares that the super-earth is a “key planet”.

Cambridge – Researchers know of more than 5000 planets orbiting distant stars. These so-called exoplanets are often named after the planets in our solar system because that makes orientation easier. For example, there are “hot Jupiters”—gas planets that are similar in size to Jupiter and come so close to their star that they are very hot. Also “Super Earth” is one of those categories – this designation is given to planets that are more massive than Earth but well below the mass of ice giants like Uranus (14.5 times Earth’s mass) and Neptune (17 times Earth’s mass).

With the help of NASA’s “Tess” space telescope, researchers have now detected a very special super-Earth in space: TOI-1075 b is located about 200 light-years away and has almost ten times the mass of Earth. The planet is according to the US Space Agency Nasa one of the most massive super-Earths known to date, “a real giant” writes NASA on their website. The planet orbits a small star in just 14.5 hours. This very short orbital period makes the planet very hot – NASA assumes that temperatures of 1050 degrees Celsius prevail on its surface.

Hot super-Earth discovered: TOI-1075 b is a “real giant”

Exoplanets that fall into the “super-Earth” category are special for researchers because there is no comparable planet in the solar system. Nevertheless, research assumes that super-Earths are among the most common planets in our galaxy. Like Earth, they appear to be rocky planets, some of them lying in their star’s so-called “habitable zone” – liquid water might be possible on their surfaces, which is good for the Search for life in the universe is of particular interest.

However, there is unlikely to be liquid water on TOI-1075 b: the exoplanet’s surface is so hot that it could consist of molten lava. Super-Earths the size of TOI-1075 b have been modeled as having a relatively thick atmosphere composed of hydrogen and helium. In the case of exoplanet TOI-1075 b, however, researchers suspect that this is unlikely.

The planet’s density and very narrow orbit argue against such an atmosphere, according to a study by a team led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) astronomer Zahra Essack. on the pre-print server ArXiv released has. The study was published in the journal The Astronomical Journal assumed.

Nasa: Super-Earth TOI-1075 b is a “key planet”

Because TOI-1075 b appears to be different from other super-Earths, it is a “key planet,” according to Nasa. With very precise measurements of the planet’s size and mass, researchers could fine-tune their models of planetary formation. The new “James Webb” space telescope from the space organizations Nasa, Esa and CSA could possibly be used for this purpose.

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“TOI-1075 b is a good candidate for emission spectroscopy with the James Webb Space Telescope,” the researchers write in their study, emphasizing that the exoplanet is visible to the telescope 200 days a year, which allows flexible observation planning. In fact, the space telescope recently for the first time Atmosphere of an exoplanet examined in detail and researchers shown what it is capable of. (tab)

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