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article imageEssential Science: Earth-size habitable-zone world detected

By Tim Sandle     Jan 13, 2020 in Science
NASA has reported it has detected an Earth-like planet that has all the indications of being habitable. This forms part of the space agency’s attempt to seek out new planets of interest in the cosmos.
The new object has been located via NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which has detected its first Earth-size planet in a star's habitable zone. The planet is located at the appropriate distance from its star, suggesting that conditions could well be suitable to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. Where liquid is present, there could be life.
New planet discovered
The new find is called TOI 700 d and it has got astronomers excited. TOI 700 is a small, cool M dwarf star located just over 100 light-years away in the southern constellation Dorado.
The fourth planet from the star - TOI 700 d – falls within a theoretical habitable zone. The planet measures twenty times larger than Earth and it orbits the star every 37 days. Another identified fact is that the planet receives from its star 86 percent of the energy that the Sun provides to Earth.
This artist’s impression shows the planet orbiting the Sun-like star HD 85512 in the southern cons...
This artist’s impression shows the planet orbiting the Sun-like star HD 85512 in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sail)
European Southern Observatory
According to lead researcher, Dr. Joseph Rodriguez: “Given the impact of this discovery -- that it is TESS's first habitable-zone Earth-size planet -- we really wanted our understanding of this system to be as concrete as possible…It's a great addition to the legacy of the mission.”
Could the planet support life?
Although the exact conditions on TOI 700 d are unknown, astrophysicists and biologists can take the available information, such the planet's size and the type of star it orbits, to generate computer models and make predictions. In addition, 3D climate models have been used to assess a variety of surface types and atmospheric compositions on the newly discovered world. Environment simulations created by researchers data revealed the planet could has some similarities with Earth, such as cloud formation.
An artist s impression of exoplanet GJ 1214b. Researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to reveal ...
An artist's impression of exoplanet GJ 1214b. Researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to reveal cloudy weather on alien world.
NASA, ESA, & G. Bacon/STScI, STScI-PRC14-06
Based on this there is the possibility of the planet being able to support some type of life-form.
TESS: Looking into space
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a space telescope for NASA's Explorers program, designed to search for exoplanets (a planet outside the Solar System). TESS is performing an all-sky survey to discover transiting exoplanet ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants.
The instrumentation on board has spent the past two years survey the brightest stars near the Earth for transiting exoplanets. To date, TESS has identified only about 1400 candidate exoplanets, of which only 34 have been confirmed so far. This rate of progress is less than NASA anticipated.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an Explorer-class planet finder.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an Explorer-class planet finder.
NASA
TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Video report
More about the discovery is shown in the following NASA video:
NASA findings
The scientific findings about the new planet have been presented to the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Honolulu. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe.
Can life exist on other planets?
Artist s impression of possible wandering exoplanet designated CFBDSIR2149
Artist's impression of possible wandering exoplanet designated CFBDSIR2149
European Southern Observatory
There is a good chance that life has evolved elsewhere in the universe. There are more planets than there are stars, and it is estimated that around one quarter of these are Earth-size planets in their star’s so-called habitable zone.
Many astronomers suggest that a type of dwarf star, called K dwarfs, may offer a “sweet spot” for hosting life-friendly planets. In terms of worlds being potentially life supporting, space biochemists focus on the likelihood of the presence of the six main elements associated with life on Earth. These are: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, sulfur and hydrogen.
Essential science
The Ebola vaccine needs to be kept at a temperature of – 80°C. These vaccine storage devices use ...
The Ebola vaccine needs to be kept at a temperature of – 80°C. These vaccine storage devices use jet fuel to keep the right temperature for up to 5 days in the field, even if the storage container is opened several times a day. Here a vaccine core is being inserted into the storage device.
S. Hawkey/WHO
This article is part of Digital Journal's regular Essential Science columns. Each week Tim Sandle explores a topical and important scientific issue.
Last time we looked at why earlier attempts to develop a vaccine against the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus have failed. The research indicates that a new approach for vaccine design is required. This approach is one where an untapped set of immune cells need to be activated.
The week before we considered a newly discovered fungus which is causing havoc to American fir trees (which also serve as Christmas trees), together with some possible treatments.
More about Astronomy, Space, Exoplanets, Planets, NASA
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