NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has spotted a buzzing multiplanetary system in our galactic neighborhood about 33 light-years from Earth, making it one of the closest known multiplanetary systems to our own.
At the system’s core is a small, cool M dwarf star, named HD 260655, and astronomers have found that it hosts at least two Earth-sized terrestrial planets.
However, the planets are unlikely to be habitable because their orbits are relatively narrow, exposing the planets to temperatures too high to keep surface water liquid, said the MIT astronomers who made the discovery.
The inner plant orbits its star every 2.8 Earth days and is about 1.2 times the size of Earth and twice as massive. The other orbits every 5.7 Earth days and is 1.5 times the size of Earth and three times as massive. They have both been described as “rocky”.
Nevertheless, the latest discovery has excited the scientific community as it will help them understand what this neighborhood looks like.
It will also allow them to take a closer look at the properties of planets and signs of any atmospheres they may contain.
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“The two planets in this system are each considered among the best targets for atmospheric study due to their star’s brightness,” said Michelle Kunimoto, a post-doctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. MIT and one of the leading discovery scientists.
“Is there a volatile-rich atmosphere around these planets? And are there signs of water- or carbon-based species? These planets are fantastic testbeds for these explorations. .”
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The team will present their findings at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Pasadena, California.
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