NASA’s TESS satellite discovers ‘Super-Earth’ that may be suitable for life

Pablo Tucker
August 4, 2019

It is also possible to be glacial, but the possibility to be habitable is existed, too! But, while those kinds of events are unpredictable, Ricker said we can expect many more consistent exoplanet discoveries from TESS in the future. The planet, called GJ 357 d, is located 31 light-years away in the constellation Hydra and orbits a star named GJ 357, an M-type dwarf about one-third the Sun's mass and size and about 40 percent cooler than our star. If made of rock, this planet may be around twice Earth's size, says a NASA release.

GJ 357 d it's believed to have a dense atmosphere, maintaining the water on its area like our planet, and we could have the possibility to catch some signs of life with a telescope that will be available.

This fantastic discovery was made possible by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS for short, but that spacecraft just pointed the way.

The doctoral student in charge of leading the research at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, Rafael Luque, said: "It took TESS to point us to an interesting star where we could uncover them [the planets]".


The planet known as GJ 357d - the furthest away from the star - was particularly intriguing as researchers estimate it could be habitable.

Of this trio of planets, both the mass and radius is only known for GJ 357 b and the global team of scientists led by Rafael Luque, at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) on Tenerife who discovered the system, have calculated that it has a mean density like Earth.

Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA's Headquarters, said: "We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the closest stars".

This illustration shows one interpretation of what GJ 357 d may be like.


As this super-Earth exoplanet is more massive than earth, Kaltenegger said this discovery will provide insight into Earth's heavyweight planetary cousins. An atmosphere could make it warmer.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters on July 31. GJ 357 c has 3.4 times the mass of Earth and a temperature of 260 degrees Fahrenheit.

TESS spotted the star dimming slightly every 3.9 days, suggesting planets were orbiting it.

Speaking of planet-hunting, during one of her exoplanet-hunting quests, TESS discovered a piping-hot Earth-sized planet.


And this goal benefits from the extensive collaboration practiced by this global community of researchers, said Patricia Boyd, head of the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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