The Webb Telescope Must Study This Unique New ‘Water World’ Close To Earth, Say Scientists


Researchers in Canada have found an exoplanet—a planet orbiting one other star—simply 100 light-years from Earth that’s most likely lined in water.

TOI-1452 b orbits one among two small stars in a binary system situated within the constellation of Draco “the dragon.” That’s the northern sky as seen from Earth, near the Big Dipper.

Published as we speak in The Astronomical Journal, the research reveals a world that’s barely larger in dimension and mass than Earth and is within the “habitable zone” of its star between the frost line and the “boil zone” the place liquid water can exist.

The authors consider it might be an “ocean planet,” a planet utterly lined by a thick layer of water. They evaluate it to Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Callisto and Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus, all of that are suspected to have subsurface world oceans.

Its location is fortuitous as a result of Draco is a circumpolar constellation that’s all the time seen at night time within the northern sky. It’s additionally shut sufficient for its ambiance to be studied. “Our observations with the Webb Telescope will be essential to better understanding TOI-1452 b,” mentioned René Doyon, Université de Montréal Professor and Director of Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) and of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM), who was concerned within the area telescope’s NIRISS part. “As soon as we can, we will book time on Webb to observe this strange and wonderful world.”

Found by NASA’s area telescope TESS and studied at OMM, TOI-1452 b isn’t Earth-like. The research reveals a planet that’s round 70% bigger than Earth. It orbits one among two purple dwarf stars that, in flip, orbit one another. That could sound weird, however it’s way more frequent that our photo voltaic system’s sole star.

It took greater than 50 hours of statement to estimate the planet’s mass, which is believed to be almost 5 instances that of Earth. The scientists consider it to be rocky, like Earth, however as an alternative of water making up 1% of the Earth’s mass, on TOI-1452 b it might make as much as 30%.

It’s thought that TOI-1452 b could also be an instance of a theorized class of “ocean planets” which are between the dimensions of Earth and Neptune and whose density can solely be defined by the presence of quite a lot of water.

“TOI-1452 b is one of the best candidates for an ocean planet that we have found to date,” mentioned Charles Cadieux, a Ph.D. scholar on the Université de Montréal and member of iREx. “Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than what one would expect for a planet that is basically made up of metal and rock, like Earth.”

Wishing you clear skies and broad eyes.

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