Newly discovered exoplanet is now our second best target for the Webb Telescope, scientists say

Scientists have discovered two “super-Earths” exoplanets, one of which is located in the habitable zone of its star. This means that liquid water can exist on its surface.

The planet, known as LP 890-9c or SPECULOOS-2c, is found around a red dwarf star about 100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Eridanus. Red dwarf stars are cooler than our Sun and are most easily abundant in our Milky Way, making up about 80% of the population as far as astronomers know.

Among the potentially habitable terrestrial planets currently known to astronomers, LP 890-9c appears to be the second most suitable target, according to its discoverers. It was found by chance while scientists checked their initial discovery of another exoplanet around the same star, called LP 890-9/TOI-4306/SPECULOOS-2. It is the second coolest star found to host planets after the famous TRAPPIST-1 star system, which hosts up to seven planets and has been placed under “Solar System 2.0”.

published in the magazine Astronomy and astrophysicsResearchers discovered the first planet, LP 890-9b, around the star using NASA’s $287 million Transiting Exoplanet Survey (TESS) satellite, and followed it up using ground-based telescopes at the SPECULOOS consortium in Chile and Tenerife. LP 890-9b orbits its star in 2.7 days and is too hot to host liquid water.

Fortunately, TESS is limited in what it can detect, so feedback requires double checking. It detects exoplanets by detecting a slight dimming of a star when a planet – or its shadow – passes through its surface. Dr Laetitia Delris, a postdoctoral researcher at FNRS at the University of Liege, Belgium and lead author of the study said. “This follow-up is particularly important in the case of relatively cold stars, such as TOI-4306, which emit most of their light in the near infrared and have a somewhat limited TESS sensitivity.”

Could the LP 890-9c really be habitable? This is unknown. It’s a “super-earth,” but don’t assume it’s like Earth a little bit bigger. LP 890-9c is likely rocky and about a third larger than Earth, but it only takes 8.5 days to orbit its star. Because it orbits a star much cooler than our departing Sun.

“Although this planet orbits close to its star, at a distance about 10 times shorter than that of Mercury around our sun, the amount of stellar radiation it receives is still low, and could allow liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface,” said Francisco J. The researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics in Andalusia and one of the co-lead authors of the research, “provided that the atmosphere is sufficient.” “This is because the star LP 890-9 is about 6.5 times smaller than the Sun and its surface temperature is half that of our star. This explains why LP 890-9c, despite being closer to its star than Earth to the Sun, can still have conditions suitable for life.”

Before announcing that this “super-Earth” is similar to Earth, more observations need to be made, specifically with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which could help researchers examine its atmosphere – if it has one.

The study authors believe that this exoplanet could be ripe for discovery of JWST’s atmosphere. “LP 890-9c is located close to the inner boundary of the habitable zone, and thus could have an especially rich water vapor atmosphere, which would enhance atmospheric signals,” Delreese said. I hold that the discovery of LP 890 -9c is a unique opportunity to learn more about the exact location of the inner boundary of the star’s habitable zone.

However, the habitable zone around a star where liquid water could theoretically exist – between the very distant “snow line” and the very near “boiling region” – does not guarantee anything. “Our neighboring planet, Venus, is, so to speak, a carbon dioxide-rich pressure cooker near 500 degrees Celsius, close to this habitable zone around the Sun,” said Dr. Robert Wells of the University of Bern and the National Center for Climate Research (NCCR). . PlanetS and co-author of the study.

TESS has so far discovered about 5,000 planets and candidate planets. In total, it is expected to find TESS About 12,519 exoplanets.

I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.