NASA reveals possible existence of more than 2,000 exoplanets

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space telescope provided evidence for more than 2,000 possible exoplanets – planets beyond the Solar System. After two years of operations, data from the space agency’s exploration program will undergo deeper analysis on Earth to confirm the existence of bodies orbiting nearby bright stars.

The mission was launched in April 2018, with the aim of observing different bands of stars and their characteristics to find exoplanets. In all, 2,241 candidates were identified, which includes hundreds of smaller and rocky objects, in a job that is expected to continue in the coming years. Such an effort can still reveal places that present conditions for life, such as the presence of water, oxygen and other essential molecules.

“The exciting thing is to look at the map of exoplanets suggested by TESS as a kind of task list [para o desenvolvimento de novas investigações científicas]”Said Natalia Guerrero, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) involved in the project, in a statement from NASA.

TESS Space TelescopeTESS Space TelescopeSource: NASA / Reproduction

The information provided is examined by an international team of astronomers, checking for changes in the brightness of stars as bodies in orbits pass in front of them. The shadow generated by this movement is detected by the telescope, using extremely sensitive instruments and cameras.

“It’s an incredible job – a valuable stock of exoplanet candidates for the community to explore,” commented Jessie Christiansen, the program’s astrophysicist. She pointed out that the next generation of space telescopes – such as NASA’s James Webb and the European Space Agency’s Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL) – “will explore many of these planets in exquisite detail, allowing us to better understand the composition , formation and migration of exoplanets ”.

So far, about 120 alien worlds have been confirmed, a step that requires observations based on the size and mass of the object, soil analysis, gravitational measurements, high-resolution images and stellar characterization. The most impressive findings were highlighted in a brief catalog released by NASA:

TESS provided evidence for more than 2,000 planets beyond the Solar SystemTESS provided evidence for more than 2,000 planets beyond the Solar SystemSource: NASA / Reproduction

Pi Mensae c

First exoplanet discovered by TESS, located 60 light years away. It is described as a “mini Neptune” and can host a dense atmosphere.

TOI-700 d

Object similar in size to the Earth, in an area considered habitable due to the possibility of presenting liquid water on the surface. It is 100 light years away, orbiting a red dwarf star – relatively cold and less than half the size of the Sun.

TOI 125

First multiplanetary system revealed by the mission, consisting of three “mini Neptunes” and possibly two additional small planets. Its discovery was reported in 2019, in which it indicated an orbit in a star similar to the Sun, more than 360 light years away.

TOI 1338 b

First planet in orbit of two stars – which make orbits between them – found by the telescope, located 1,300 light years away.

LHS 3844 b

First object that presents an “ultrashort period” of orbit in its star, lasting only 11 hours. Described as a “Super Earth” 50 light years away, it is a rocky planet with an estimated surface temperature of 531 Celsius.

TOI 1690 b

Giant planet orbiting a white dwarf – dense core of a star that has lost most of its light elements. It is the first recorded case of a nearby object that survived the transition from a red star to a white dwarf.

TOI 849 b

It has about 40 times the mass of the Earth and three times that of our planet, located 700 light years away. Because its orbit is close to its star, it has high temperatures and little atmosphere, with a dense core.

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