Astronomers have found a “peculiar pair” of planets orbiting around a red dwarf star called TOI-1266. These planets are called exoplanets. According to a report in Science Daily, the Mexico-based SAINT-EX telescope, co-operated by the NCCR PlanetS, was used to spot the planets. SAINT-EX stands for Search And characterIsatioN of Transiting EXoplanets.
It “demonstrates its high precision and takes an important step in the quest of finding potentially habitable worlds,” the report said.
Exoplanets are planets that orbit around other stars. The first exoplanet was confirmed orbiting a sun-like star in 1995. According to statistics, on average, there is at least one planet around every star in the galaxy. Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered so far.
“There’s something on the order of a trillion planets in our galaxy alone, many of them in Earth’s size range,” National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) said.
“Compared to the planets in our solar system, TOI-1266 b and c are much closer to their star — it takes them only 11 and 19 days respectively to orbit it,” the study said.
Their host star, TOI-1266, is cooler than the Sun. The outer planet has approximately the temperature of Venus, even though it is 7 times closer to its star than Venus is to the Sun, the study revealed.
According to the study, both the planets are of “similar density, possibly corresponding to a composition of about a half of rocky and metallic material and half water. This makes them about half as rocky as Earth or Venus but also far rockier than Uranus or Neptune”.
In terms of their size, both of them are clearly different from each other. The inner planet, TOI-1266 b, measures up to a little under two-and-a-half times the Earth’s diameter, while the outer planet, TOI-1266 c, belongs to the category of “super-Earths” — is just over one-and-a-half times the size of our planet.
According to the Nasa, planets, beyond our solar system, that orbit around other stars are called exoplanets. They are very hard to see directly with telescopes and are “hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit,” it said.
Therefore, astronomers search for exoplanets by noticing the effects these planets have on the stars they orbit around, Nasa said.
By observing how the brightness of the star changes during a transit, astronomers can figure out the size of the planet.
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Nasa said that if one wants to see exoplanets, he/she need to look for “wobbly” stars.
“A star that has planets doesn’t orbit perfectly around its center. From far away, this off-center orbit makes the star look like it’s wobbling,” it said.
However, Nasa also says that both stars and planets are in many types and sizes, and the interplay of some factors like — the right distance and temperature for liquid water to exist — determines the extent and influence of this “habitable zone.”
Recently, for the first time, astronomers discovered two dozen planets that may have conditions more suitable for life than Earth. As per a report in Astrobiology Web, these more ‘liveable’ planets are older, a little larger, slightly warmer and possibly wetter than Earth. Some of these orbit stars that may be better than even our sun. Life could also more easily thrive on planets that circle more slowly changing stars with longer lifespans than our sun.
Earlier, Nasa’s planet-hunting satellite Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovered its first Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of its star. The planet was found in the range of distances where the conditions are favourable for the presence of liquid water on its surface.
Science Daily describes “red dwarfs” as the coolest kind of star. These stars potentially allow water to exist on planets that are quite close to them, the report said.
“In the search for habitable worlds beyond the borders of our solar system, this is a big advantage: the distance between an exoplanet and its star is a crucial factor for its detection. The closer the two are, the higher the chance that astronomers can detect the planet from Earth,” it further said.
However, Brice-Olivier Demory, lead author of the study and Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Bern, was quoted as saying that these stars are “small and emit little light compared to most other stars, such as our Sun.”
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Star, Red dwarf, Exoplanet, Astronomy
World news – GB – Astronomers spot 2 planets orbiting a red dwarf star