An Earth-sized planet in a habitable zone has just been discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The planet has its own host star located within orbital distance where liquid water could be stable on the world’s surface.
The announcement regarding the new planet was made on January 6, 2020 and the “exoplanet” has been named TOI 700 d and is located 101.5 light-years from Earth, with its somewhat close vicinity making it easier for researches to continue their studies.
Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters, Washington said the find was a huge success in a statement saying this was exactly what TESS was designed to find.
“Planets around nearby stars are easiest to follow up with larger telescopes in space and on Earth. Discovering TOI 700 d is a key science finding for TESS,” he added.
TESS was launched to carry out a mission to discover Earth-like planets in April 2018 and this is the first one it has come across. The machine uses a “transit method” to search for such planets, looking out for dips in stellar brightness which are caused by orbiting worlds that cross in front of stars, this is the same method used by the famous Kepler space telescope responsible for discovering roughly 70% of the 4,000 known exoplanets.
Along with TOI 700 d TESS also discovered three other planets including a red dwarf, an innermost world called TOI 700 b and a centre planet, TOI 700 c which is 2.6 times bigger than Earth.
Out of all the planets discovered TOI 700 d is the most interesting. It is just 20% bigger than either a completes an orbit every 37 days, it receives 86% of the stellar energy Earth does from the sun and is considered the most habitable.
While monitoring the planet over 11 months researchers recorded no flares from the nearby star, meaning the planets atmospheric and surface conditions should make it a perfect fit for life.