Astronomers have discovered a “super-Earth” orbiting a star located about 137 light years away. A second planet, the size of Earth, could also orbit the same star, according to a recent discovery published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The super-Earth exoplanet, known as TOI-715b, was identified by NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) mission and orbits a red dwarf star. Researchers have determined that the planet takes just over 19 Earth days to complete an orbit around its star and is located within the habitable zone, providing the right conditions for liquid water to exist.
This exciting discovery is the first super-Earth detected within the conservative habitable zone, making it suitable for future atmospheric research. The planet is close enough to its star to allow for frequent transits, making it a prime candidate for future observations with the James Webb Space Telescope, which can peer into the atmospheres of planets and provide valuable insights into their potential habitability for life.
The discovery of TOI-715b is an important step in the ongoing search for Earth-like planets. Dr. Georgina Dransfield, the lead author of the study, points out the significance of this discovery in better understanding the diversity of exoplanetary systems and the potential for habitable worlds.
In the future, astronomers hope to have the ability to search for planets around stars more like our Sun, which will require advancements in technology and space missions such as the European Space Agency’s PLATO, scheduled to launch in 2026.
The findings from these missions will begin to shed light on how common Earth-like planets really are and provide valuable insights into the potential for habitable worlds beyond our solar system.