Before 1995, when the first exoplanet was discovered, we only knew that there are planets in our solar system. Nearly two decades later, 4,000 exoplanets were discovered. There are nearly 3,000 more potential candidates. NASA's estimates from the first exoplanet discovery after the number of known exoplanets has doubled every 27 months.
As the number of exoplanets increases, scientists are coming closer to understanding whether there is another earth planet in our universe and if there is if it can host a life. This is part of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission, known as TESS. Last week, a team of astronomers from Cornell University, Lehigh University and Vanderbilt University published a report in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, which features a detailed catalog called the TESS Star Zone Catalog of 1
Paddy Boyd, a TESS project scientist at NASA, tells Salon that this catalog is important because it synthesized data to the point where it can be squeezed manually by scientists. This allows them to look for signals in a way that computer automation may not be.
"What makes this catalog a little different is that it looks at all the stars TESS can see and look for a subset of those stars around which TESS telescopes themselves, the instruments themselves, will be able to find transit from a small planet, one or two small transits, and this planet will be in the habitable zone of its star, "said Boyd. we have, and the selection of what some people would think would be the most intuitive "
These are the planets that would be in the habitable zone of these stars. The habitable zone means that the exoplanet is far enough from the star of their solar system, like our sun, where the water could exist on the surface of the planet The way TESS observes the sky is to look at the stars only within the next few hundred light-years, allowing it to gather more critical information to make subsequent observations. Now with the new catalog, researchers have a better idea of where to find TESS. For those who are interested in knowing if there is life elsewhere in the universe, this is another step towards finding an answer.
"Life can exist in all worlds, but the species we know can support our lives, so it makes sense first to look for Earth-like planets," said lead author Liza Kaltenneger, professor of astronomy at the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Karl Sagan Institute of Cornell. "This catalog is important for TESS, because anyone who works with the data wants to know about which stars we can find the closest analogs on Earth."
The catalog also identifies 408 stars that can be surrounded by Earth-sized planets and receive similar amounts of radiation that the Earth receives from the sun.
"I have 408 new favorite stars," Kaltenneiger said. "It's amazing that I do not have to choose only one, but now I'm looking for hundreds of stars."
The next step is TESS to take up the job by watching these stars.
You know how many TESS planets will find about hundreds of stars in our catalog or will be habitable, says Caltennegger. "But the chances are in our favor, some studies show that there are many rocky planets in the habitable zone of cool stars, like those in our catalog."
All of these observations will better inform mission objectives such as the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be able to characterize in greater detail the exoplanet atmospheres that are currently set to run in early 2021