Scientists used surveys from NASA’s TESS satellite observatory to accomplish a monumental result. They have discovered an ‘ocean planet’ completely covered by a thick layer of water 100 light-years from Earth.
Researchers have found an “ocean planet” that eerily resembles Kevin Costner’s post-apocalyptic action movie Waterworld from 1995.
They claimed that, like some of Jupiter’s and Saturn’s moons, the world, which is 100 light-years from Earth, is entirely covered in a thick coating of water.
It is slightly bigger and heavier than Earth, and it is located far enough from its star for life to conceivably exist there.
An multinational team of astronomers have discovered TOI-1452 b, an exoplanet orbiting one of two small stars in a binary system in the Draco constellation.
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Charles Cadieux, a PhD candidate at the Université de Montréal and a member of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx), served as its leader.
The researchers discovered the exoplanet thanks to NASA’s TESS space telescope, which scans the whole sky in search of planetary systems similar to our own.
Astronomers were able to forecast the existence of a planet that is roughly 70% larger than Earth thanks to a signal from TESS that showed a small brightness decline every 11 days.
“I’m extremely proud of this discovery because it shows the high calibre of our researchers and instrumentation,” said René Doyon, Université de Montréal Professor and Director of iREx and of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM).
“It is thanks to the OMM, a special instrument designed in our labs called SPIRou, and an innovative analytic method developed by our research team that we were able to detect this one-of-a-kind exoplanet.”
The host star of the exoplanet, TOI-1452, is one of two stars in the binary system that are both about as big as our sun.
The TESS telescope perceives the two stars as a single point of light because their separation, 97 astronomical units, or roughly 2.5 times the distance between the sun and Pluto, is so narrow that they orbit each other.
However, additional observations allowed astronomers to confirm that TOI-1452 b did orbit TOI-1452.
They then spent more than 50 hours calculating the planet’s mass, which is thought to be close to five times that of Earth.
The specialists speculate that although the exoplanet TOI-1452 b is likely rocky like our planet, its radius, mass, and density point to a world that is radically different from our own.
In essence, Earth is an extremely dry planet. Although it is commonly referred to as the “Blue Planet” because the ocean covers around 70% of its area, water really makes up a very small portion of its mass—less than 1%.
Astronomers have recently discovered and calculated the radius and mass of a significant number of exoplanets with sizes between Earth and Neptune (about 3.8 times larger than Earth).
Some of them have densities that can only be understood if a major portion of their mass is made up of lighter materials than those that make up the Earth’s internal structure, such as water.
These theoretical worlds have been nicknamed “ocean planets.”
“TOI-1452 b is one of the best candidates for an ocean planet that we have found to date,” said Cadieux.
“Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than what one would expect for a planet that is basically made up of metal and rock, like Earth.”
Water may account for up to 30% of TOI-1452 b’s mass, according to analysis, a percentage that is comparable to that of some natural satellites in our Solar System, including that of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Callisto, and Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus.
The new $10 billion (£7.4 billion) James Webb Space Telescope, which NASA launched this month, is anticipated to be the ideal candidate for additional observation of TOI-1452 b.
The Astronomical Journal published the new finding.
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