An global team of astronomers has characterized the first potentially habitable world outside of our solar system discovered by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a mission created to comb the heavens for exoplanets. It orbits a dwarf star with two other previously unknown planets.
The GJ 357 system is roughly 31 light-years away and circulates in the star's habitable zone, and the GJ 357d is placed in its habitable zone.
"GJ 357 d is located within the outer edge of its star's habitable zone, where it receives about the same amount of stellar energy from its star as Mars does from the Sun", said co-author Diana Kossakowski at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.
One in particular could be rather remarkable: A super-Earth, now dubbed GJ 357 d, may have liquid water on its surface.
The scientists came across GJ 357 d and one other planet orbiting the star when they were trying to confirm the existence of the satellite's first-discovered exoplanet*, called GJ 357 b, which can not host life due to its 490 degrees surface temperature.
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Top Image: Only 31 light-years away from Earth, the exoplanet GJ 357 d - the recently discovered "super-Earth" catches light from its host star GJ 357, in this artistic rendering.
To confirm the presence of GJ 357 b and discover its neighbors, Luque and his colleagues turned to existing ground-based measurements of the star's radial velocity, or the speed of its motion along our line of sight. Researchers don't know if it's rocky like Earth, but it orbits its star every 55.7 days and has a temperature of -64 degrees Fahrenheit. TESS did not observe transits from this planet, which suggests its orbit is slightly tilted - perhaps by less than 1 degree - relative to the hot Earth's orbit, so it never passes across the star from our perspective. The satellite has so far discovered more than 20 planets outside of our solar system.
While more than 1000 exoplanets were discovered by TESS, it is a recent finding of 3 exoplanets that has scientists talking.
Granted, at these temperatures the planet can not sustain life, which is one of the main purposes for TESS' explorations, but, it remains significant because it is the third-nearest transiting exoplanet recorded to date.
The article ' TESS satellite uncovers its 'first nearby super-Earth ' was originally published on Science Daily.
Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA's Headquarters, said: "We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the closest stars".