Goldilocks Zone Current Affairs - 2019

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GJ 357 d: NASA’s TESS discovers 1st nearby super-earth

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission has discovered GJ 357 d, a super-Earth planet located 31 light years away from our own solar system. Researchers claim that it is the first nearby “super-Earth” planet that could possibly support life as it orbit within its star’s “habitable zone or Goldilocks Zone”.

About GJ 357 d

It is super-Earth planet discovered in early 2019 by NASA’s TESS. It is located GJ 357 planetary system which has diminutive M-type dwarf sun, about one-third the size of our own sun and harbour in three planets including GJ 357 d.

It is about 31 light-years away from our solar system. It orbits a star named GJ 357. It is 22% larger than Earth and orbits 11 times closer to its star than Mercury does to our sun. It has thick atmosphere and is thought to have surface temperatures up to 254 degrees Celsius. It may be receiving about the same amount of energy from its star as Mars does from the sun and it could be maintaining liquid water on its surface like Earth.

Significance of discovery: It will provide valuable information about this super-Earth planet and other large exoplanets outside our solar system. It has opened has door for astronomers to test theories and models about exoplanets.

Terminologies

Exoplanet: It is planet that orbits star outside of our own solar system.

Super Earth: It is extrasolar planet with mass higher than Earth’s, but substantially below masses of the Solar System’s ice giants, Uranus and Neptune. It only refers to mass of the planet, and does not imply anything about the habitability or surface conditions.

TOI 270: NASA’s TESS discovers

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) recently discovered new dwarf star and planetary system named as TOI 270. It is located about 73 light years away from Earth, and in the constellation Pictor.

TOI 270 Planetary System

Its members include Dwarf star named TOI 270, which is 40 % smaller than the Sun in size and mass, and three exoplanets (planets outside solar system) that have been named TOI 270b, TOI 270c and TOI 270d.  These three planets orbit their star every 3.4 days, 5.7 days, and 11.4 days respectively.

TOI 270b is innermost planet and is expected to be a rocky world about 25% bigger than Earth. It is not habitable (or within Goldilocks Zone) since it is located too close to star — about 13 times closer than our Solar System’s Mercury is from Sun. On other hand, TOI 270c and TOI 270 d are Neptune-like planets because their compositions are dominated by gases rather than rock.