Technology

NASA Discovers ‘Super-Earth’ in Habitable Zone

NASA has unveiled a groundbreaking discovery: a new “super-Earth” located a mere 137 light-years from our planet, orbiting within the potentially life-sustaining confines of a “habitable zone.”

The exoplanet, known as TOI-715 b, presents an intriguing prospect for scientists in the quest to find habitable worlds beyond our solar system.

A Promising Discovery by TESS

TOI-715 b, approximately one and a half times the size of Earth, revolves around a small, red star.

This exciting find was made possible by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which also hints at the presence of a second, Earth-sized planet within the same system.

If confirmed, this smaller planet could represent TESS’s most diminutive habitable-zone discovery to date.

In the Conservative Habitable Zone

The super-Earth’s orbit places it in what NASA describes as a conservative “habitable zone,” an area where conditions may be just right for liquid water—a crucial ingredient for life as we know it—to exist.

Despite the potential, NASA remains cautiously optimistic, acknowledging that several other factors must align to confirm the planet’s habitability.

The proximity of TOI-715 b to its parent star, a cooler and smaller red dwarf compared to our sun, results in a remarkably short orbital period; a year on this super-Earth lasts only 19 Earth days. This close orbit allows for more straightforward detection and frequent observation of the planet.

Future Prospects with the James Webb Space Telescope

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, designed to delve deeper into the mysteries of exoplanets, is set to play a pivotal role in studying TOI-715 b and others like it.

The telescope’s capabilities extend to analyzing exoplanetary atmospheres, offering potential insights into the conditions necessary for life.

Leading the charge in this discovery was Georgina Dransfield from the University of Birmingham in the U.K., with the findings published in the “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” journal.

With information from ABC News

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