NASA TESS discovers third new planet HD 21749b

NASA's planet finder discovers weird new world and 6 six exploding stars

NASA's new 'planet hunter, ' set to be Kepler's successor, is equipped with four cameras that will allow it to view 85 per cent of the entire sky, as it searches exoplanets orbiting stars less than 300 light-years away.

The newly discovered planet orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star about 53 light years away in the constellation Reticulum. K2-288Bb revolves around smaller and dimmer stars, making a complete revolution around it for 31.3 per day.

The surface of the new planet is likely around 300 degrees Fahrenheit - relatively cool, given its proximity to its star, which is nearly as bright as the Sun.

Unusually, the planet is roughly 1.9 times the size of Earth - much larger than most other exoplanets that orbit close to their stars, which are normally not more than 1.5 times the size of Earth. It is also a whopping 23 times as massive as Earth. Based on the data of the planet, scientists found that the planet has a gaseous nature, with a thick and warmer atmosphere compared to the Neptune and Uranus from our solar system.

Experts say it's most likely either a rocky or gas-rich planet similar to Neptune, and have called it Super Earth or K2-288Bb. The world, called K2-288Bb, appears to be quite special, and researchers who have looked at the data think it might even host liquid water, raising the possibility that the newfound planet is habitable.

However, the strangest part of the discovery is the possible second planet that team has also detected orbiting HD 21749. Feinstein presented the find January 7 at the American Astronomical Society's winter meeting in Seattle.

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TESS sectioned the night sky into 26 segments - each to be surveyed meticulously over two years.

"This planet has a greater density than Neptune, but it isn't rocky", Dr Dragomir said.

George Ricker, the mission's principal investigator at MIT, predicted further discoveries: "We're only halfway through Tess's first year of operations and the data floodgates are just beginning to open".

The space telescope launched previous year as the successor to NASA's long-running and very successful Kepler turned in three exoplanets in its first three months of observations.

In May 2017, citizen scientists began discussing a particular planet candidate, but it had only two transits, or passes of the planet in front of its star. Their proximity to Earth will enable detailed characterization of the planets through follow-up observations from space- and ground-based telescopes. For what it's worth, several TESS finds have been the subject of pre-print research papers. More than half of those were bagged by the Kepler Space Telescope - the predecessor to TESS. And some of these worlds will be close enough to Earth for astronomers to study the planets using powerful instruments, such as NASA's $8.9 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2021. The mission has already flagged several hundred planet candidates, and its confirmed finds will run into the thousands when all is said and done, NASA officials have said.

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