NASA’s Planet-Hunting Telescope Discovers Two Distant Planets

24 September, 2018, 02:52 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • First 'Light Image' Captured by NASA's TESS Planet-Hunter

"In a sea of stars brimming with new worlds, TESS is casting a wide net and will haul in a bounty of promising planets for further study", said Dr. Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The first potential exoplanet - π-earths Men, approximately 4.9 mass of the Earth. The black lines in the image are gaps between the camera detectors.

An image of the Large Magellanic Cloud taken by TESS. Two stars - Beta Gruis and R Doradus - are so bright that they created long spikes of light in the photo. Together, the cameras let TESS scan a narrow strip of the sky stretching from the polar region to the equator.

TESS will spend two years monitoring of the 26 sectors of the sky for 27 days each. Taken last August, it covers a swath of the Southern Sky showing stars and constellations and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, which are nearby galaxies in their own right, hanging like extragalactic fruit in nearby space. Most importantly, the majority of them have been identified for the first time. Along with it are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, these are the galaxies nearest to the Milky Way. It reached the orbit, successfully completed tests and even sent awesome images to Earth. NASA's Deep Space Network receives and forwards the data to the TESS Payload Operations Center at MIT for initial evaluation and analysis.

The satellite's ultimate goal, though, is to find exoplanets. That star is a yellow dwarf like our Sun, and is the second brightest known stars, around which planets revolve.


Technically, we don't know for sure either of these planets exists yet.

TESS has also started observations requested through the TESS Guest Investigator Program, a program which invites scientists to conduct research using the satellite.

NASA anticipates TESS discovering "thousands" of exoplanets using this method, and it can already cross two off that list: it has discovered one exoplanet about 50 light-years away and another at 60 light-years. TESS will spend a year or so on the southern hemisphere and then work its way to the northern hemisphere, collecting an vast amount of data and relaying it back to scientists on Earth. "We will have to wait and see what else TESS discovers", Seager said.

The researchers examined the data of TESS and has detected a new exoplanet, orbiting the star π of table Mountain, known as HD 39091, and is located at 59.5 light-years from Earth in the constellation of table Mountain. Today, astronomers announce the first of what is expected to be 20,000 new exoplanets.

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