A NASA telescope which is orbiting our planet has picked up a new super-Earth – a world that’s 30 to 70 percent bigger than Earth itself.
When we say it’s in another solar system 137 light-years away, that sounds like it’s no where near, especially with a light-year being nearly six trillion miles.
But considering the vastness of space, it’s actually considered close.
The new exoplanet, officially known as TOI-715 b, is said to be 1.5 times the size of Earth.
What’s more, this world orbits inside the habitable or ‘Goldilocks’ zone.
Apparently, the super-Earth orbits quite close to its star, which each orbit lasting just 19 days.
Discovery Alert!— NASA Exoplanets (@NASAExoplanets) February 1, 2024
A super-Earth ripe for further investigation orbits a small, reddish star that is, at least by astronomical standards, fairly close to us – only 137 light-years away. The same system also might have a secret: a second, Earth-sized planet! https://t.co/AaZYo7efNY pic.twitter.com/898Dj762Wo
Scientists don’t think it’s a hellish, scorching world, like some other exoplanets.
It’s star is a ‘red dwarf’, which is both cooler and smaller compared to our medium-sized star, the Sun.
“That’s the distance from the star that could give the planet the right temperature for liquid water to form on its surface,” NASA explained on its website.
“Several other factors would have to line up, of course, for surface water to be present, especially having a suitable atmosphere.”
But this exoplanet is very different, with details of its detection published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
As the super-Earth is millions of light-years away, it can only be seen as a dark dot when it periodically passed in front of its red dwarf star.
That being said, NASA has created a conception of what it might look like (below).
The space observatory that found the super-Earth, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has been hard at work looking for exoplanets transiting in front of their stars.
So far the confirmed number of exoplanets stands at 5,569, although there are over 10,000 more under review.
To be frank, that’s just scratching the surface, as there’s hundreds of billions of galaxies, with trillions of stars.
And if most stars have one or more planets around them, there’s an unfathomable number of hidden worlds.