FP TrendingAug 26, 2022 19:42:01 IST
Astronomers at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are always on the search for new planets and stars across the universe. One of the main objectives is to find proof of liquid water in extraterrestrial sources.
Now, astronomers may have identified a potential planet covered in water. The team of researchers used NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) along with ground-based telescopic instruments to identify an exoplanet, a planet outside our solar system that may be potentially rocky like Earth but might be covered in massive oceans.
Planet TOI-1452 b was identified by a team of researchers from the University of Montreal using TESS and the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM) observatory, as a ‘super-Earth’ class of planet. The planet is orbiting a binary system of red dwarfs, the end of the line for one of the smallest classes of stars. The planet is at a short distance away from the main star, its ‘year’ only lasting 11 days but is still in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist because the star’s luminosity and heat are quite low.
This classification means that the planet is much more massive than Earth but still a rocky territorial planet and significantly less massive than ice giants (like Uranus and Neptune) and gas giants (like Saturn and Jupiter).
TOI-1452 b, in particular, is 70 percent larger than Earth but roughly 5 times more massive. This disproportionate density means that TOI-1452 b may have incredibly deep oceans, much like those suspected to be hidden on Europa, Titan and Ganymede, the Jovian and Saturnian moons.
Interestingly, Planet TOI-1452 b is relatively nearby in our cosmic neighbourhood. The planet is ‘only’ 100 light years away, which means that it would ‘only’ take us a century while traveling at the speed of light (which is physically impossible) to reach the planet.
While further studies of Planet TOI-1452 b are needed to confirm the presence of water on its surface along with other details, the planet is perfectly positioned to be studied by the James Webb Space Telescope. The planet is not the closest ‘super-Earth’ that we know of, Proxima Centauri b is just over 4 light years away and technically in the habitable zone. But Planet TOI-1452 b is an exoplanet that is both close enough and may be full of water. Though the JWST will need to study the planet to confirm the presence of H20.