The smallest exoplanet discovered

The TESS telescope, designed to search for exoplanets, discovered three planets in the L 98-59 system. The dimensions of one of them are between the Earth and Mars.

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — TESS is automatically aimed at stellar systems and searches for exoplanets in them using the transit method. It is based on the fact that when a planet passes in front of a star’s disk, it covers part of the disk.

Therefore, by recording a change in the brightness of a star over time, it is possible to determine the number of planets in the system, their size and characteristics of the orbit.

Aiming at the L 98-59 star system, the TESS telescope managed to detect three planets in it. The star itself is located at a relatively short distance from the Earth – 35 light years – so it was possible to see it relatively well.

These planets are approximately 0.8, 1.4 and 1.6 times larger than the Earth and rotate very quickly around their stars with periods of 2.25, 3.7 and 7.45 days, respectively.

According to the authors of the work, if several planets rotate in the system, they can gravitationally interact with each other.

TESS will observe L 98-59 in a sufficient number of sectors so that planets can be detected with a circulation time of about 100 days. But if scientists are really lucky, they will be able to see the gravitational effect of undiscovered planets on open planets.

Unfortunately, none of these planets is in the habitable zone. But even at such a distance from the parent star, L 98-59b receives 22 times more radiant energy than the Earth from the Sun. And L 98-59c and d receive 11 and four times more radiation, respectively, than the Earth.

Nevertheless, they all occupy the “zone of Venus” – a range of distances where a planet with an atmosphere like Earth can experience a greenhouse effect and get an atmosphere similar to Venus. Based on the size of L 98-59d, it can be either a Venus-shaped world, or a mini-Neptune, which has a rocky core surrounded by a dense gas shell.


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