Monday , September 27 2021

Discover an exoplanet with more water than Earth

The search for exoplanets is enriched with a new discovery, this time completely unpublished: an exoplanet with truly unique properties (for now).

called exoplanet “Nu2 Lupi dIt is located 50 light-years away in the constellation Lupus, around a star called Nu2 Lupi. It is about 2.5 times the size of the Earth and about 9 times its mass.

How Nu2 Lupi was discovered

Scientists who published the study used measurements with archival data from other observatories and numerical models to describe the density and composition of an exoplanet and its neighbors. They discovered that the planet had a rocky interior. And much more water than land. However, water is not a liquid. Instead of taking high pressure ice or high temperature steam, which makes the planets uninhabitable.

Swiss astronomers had already announced in 2019 the discovery of three exoplanets with masses between Earth and Neptune (17 times that of Earth) that take 12, 28 and 107 days to orbit their parent star.

Jan AlbertThe professor of astrophysics at the University of Bern and co-author of the study said: “We already knew this for two inner planets, which led us to focus CHEOPS on the star system. The third planet is so far away. of the star: no one expected to see its traffic! ”

It was a turning point. It is the first time that an exoplanet with a period of revolution of more than 100 days is seen when a star passes bright enough to be visible to the naked eye.

Jan Albert

Because it is a unique discovery

Infographic of the Nu2 Lupi planetary system. Photo: ESA

David EhrenreichUniversity of Geneva professor and mission scientist CHEOPS, who signed the study, states: “Due to a relatively long period, the amount of stellar radiation reaching an exoplanet is considered moderate compared to with many other exoplanets discovered. The less radiation a planet receives, say its change over time. Therefore, a planet with a long period could have preserved more information about its origin. “

So far, few astronomers on these outer planets have found faint stars in their orbits. In other words, little light reaches the Earth and is therefore difficult to study. Not this time: since its bright host star is close enough to us, studying the exoplanet is easier. This makes it a golden goal for future studies with no known equivalents.

David Ehrenreich

An exoplanet experiencing a slight explosion

Photobomb is the term that means an object when it suddenly falls into the field of view of the camera while taking a photograph. The same case occurred with CHEOPS. The satellite was photographing a planetary system 50 light-years away and suddenly discovered this exoplanet that “blurred the image,” but it turned out to be so.

The team was led by the universities of Geneva and Bern and members of the PlanetS National Research Competence Center.

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