TESS Detects Potentially Habitable Super-Earth In The Neighborhood

The planet was spotted by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

The planet was spotted by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

This week the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) hosted the first TESS Science conference dedicated to the multitude of discoveries NASA's planet hunting telescope has helped uncover in its first year of operation.

Proxima b and GJ 357d were discovered via so-called radial velocity, which involves looking for signs of a wobble in a star from the gravitational tug of an orbiting planet.

This diagram shows the layout of the GJ 357 system. Of those exoplanets, two are not in what researchers call the "habitable zone".

"She gets about the same amount of stellar energy from its star as Mars is from the Sun", said the authors of a new study.

GJ 357 c, the middle planet, has a mass at least 3.4 times Earth's, orbits the star every 9.1 days at a distance a bit more than twice that of the transiting planet, and has an equilibrium temperature around 260 F (127 C).

"This system is 31 light-years away", added Gonzales-Quiles.

Earlier it was reported that planet-"snowballs" were found suitable for the development of life.

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.

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TESS has been up roaming the skies for 12 months now and has discovered 21 planets and 850 potential exoplanets - planets outside of our solar system - in that time.

The scientists came across GJ 357 d and one other planet orbiting the star when they were trying to confirm the existence of the satellite's first-discovered exoplanet*, called GJ 357 b, which can not host life due to its 490 degrees surface temperature.

To find out for sure, GJ 357 d needs to pass in front of its host star so that researchers can use the transit information to work out its density - like they did for its larger, hotter accomplice GJ 357 b.

NASA's TESS is used to discover exoplanets beyond our solar system.

Katenegger has described Gj 357 d to have a thick atmosphere that could potentially be able to retain liquid, which is one of the fundamental building blocks for life.

An artistic rendering of GJ 357 d, a possible temperate super-Earth only 31 light-years away that could have liquid water on its surface.

Granted, at these temperatures the planet can not sustain life, which is one of the main purposes for TESS' explorations, but, it remains significant because it is the third-nearest transiting exoplanet recorded to date. It was discovered after TESS observed that the dwarf sun GJ 357 dimmed very slightly every 3.9 days, evidence of GJ 357 b, the transiting planet that was moving across the star's face.

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