NASA’s TESS discovered three new planets nearby, including temperate ‘sub-Neptune’

Posted: July 30, 2019 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Temperature
Tags: ,

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center / Scott Wiessinger

Quoting from the abstract of the study in Nature Astronomy:
‘The planets orbit close to a mean-motion resonant chain, with periods (3.36 days, 5.66 days and 11.38 days, respectively) near ratios of small integers (5:3 and 2:1).’

One of the astronomers said: “For TOI-270, these planets line up like pearls on a string. That’s a very interesting thing because it lets us study their dynamical behavior. And you can almost expect, if there are more planets, the next one would be somewhere further out, at another integer ratio.”

“There is a good possibility that the system hosts other planets, further out from planet d, that might well lie within the habitable zone. Planet d, with an 11-day orbit, is about 10 million kilometers out from the star.”

In fact the distance-to-star ratios of the planets (named b,c and d) are very similar:
b:c = 1:1.542 and c:d = 1:1.553 (for comparison Earth:Mars is 1:1.524).

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, has discovered three new planets that are among the smallest, nearest exoplanets known to date, reports Tech Explorist.

The planets circle a star only 73 light-years away and incorporate a small, rough super-Earth and two sub-Neptunes — planets about a large portion of the size of our own icy giant.

The sub-Neptune farthest out from the star seems, by all accounts, to be inside a temperate zone, implying that the highest point of the planet’s atmosphere is inside a temperature extend that could support a few types of life.

In any case, scientists state the planet’s atmosphere is likely a thick, ultradense heat trap that renders the planet’s surface too hot to even consider hosting water or life.

Scientists dubbed this new planetary system as TOI-270, proving to have other interesting qualities such as they appear to be of similar size.

Moreover, TOI-270 appears to host two intermediate planets: both are sub-Neptunes and smaller than our own Neptune and not much larger than the rocky planet in the system.

According to astronomers, TOI-270 might be a ‘missing link’ in planetary formation, as they are of intermediate size and could help researchers determine whether small, rocky planets like Earth and more massive, icy worlds like Neptune follow the same formation path or evolve separately.

Full article here.
– – –
Talkshop note – the data.

Orbits (in days – selected to be a close match):
37 b = 124.323
22 c = 124.524
11 d = 125.182

Conjunctions (alignment with the star):
15 b-c (37-22) = 124.03
11 c-d (22-11) = 123.873
26 b-d (37-11) = 123.963
[Check: 15+11 = 26]

Data: [The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia]

Comment: once again, the conjunctions give a tighter match than the orbits.

  1. oldbrew says:

    the planet’s atmosphere is likely a thick, ultradense heat trap that renders the planet’s surface too hot

    A thick atmosphere likely means high pressure at the surface due to its mass, which means a lot of heat. Whether that is the same as a ‘heat trap’ is debatable.

  2. JB says:

    ONLY 73 light years away. Let’s go have a look-see, Pick-a-card. Bring that walking AI too (2 machine opinions with the same data are better than one…).

  3. oldbrew says:

    UK national daily The Independent has picked up on this.

    ‘Other solar systems have been found with planets that line up in these “resonant” formations. In our solar system, the moons of Jupiter are lined up in this interesting way, too.’

    Interesting, yes, but maybe not in quite the way they think…

    Why Phi? – the resonance of Jupiter’s Galilean moons

  4. stpaulchuck says:

    SciFi writers don’t always get it right, but their imagination of the existence of a myriad a planets out there in space is now proven.

    In addition, there is a theory of faster than light travel by warping space. Uh ‘warp drive’ anyone? If we can solve the negative energy theory and make it practical we can have warp drive.

    Now if we can just solve the time mirror problem to see back into the far past, a predicted tool that theorists say is definitely possible. How cool would that be. I love SciFi.

  5. Gamecock says:


    ‘The planets circle a star only 73 light-years away’

    429,000,000,000,000 miles.

  6. oldbrew says:

    “It’s all relative” – Einstein…maybe 😋

    NB there’s another interesting system a mere 19 light years away. But that can wait for a day or two.

  7. chickenhawk says:

    just need to find the Alderson points…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s