Home Sciences They discover an exoplanet similar to Earth 155 light years away

They discover an exoplanet similar to Earth 155 light years away

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Astronomers have discovered a very Earth-like exoplanet 155 light-years away, orbiting its star every 13 days. Its surface is an immense expanse of lava, just as our planet will be in the distant future, when the Sun shines much brighter than it does now.

Astronomers have discovered, 155 light-years away, a planet very similar to Earth that orbits the star TOI-500 in periods of 13 days.

Called TOI-500b, is part of a system of four planets. The other three planets in this system orbit TOI-500 every 6.6, 26.2, and 61.3 days, respectively.

TOI-500b is a rocky planet with a radius, mass and density comparable to that of Earth, although its proximity to the star makes it so hot (about 1,350°C) that its surface is probably a vast expanse of lava, according to the researchers.

The new planet could be a faithful reflection of what the Earth will be like in the future, when the Sun becomes a red giant, much larger and brighter than it is now, the authors of this research suggest.

planetary migration

In addition to the discovery of the system, the novelty presented by this research lies in the migration process that brought the planetary system to its current orbital configuration.

It is generally thought that ultrashort orbital period planets did not form in their current orbits, since the innermost regions of their natal protoplanetary disk have inadequate density and temperature to form planets, so they must have originated further away and then have migrated inwards, close to its host star, explains about it Hans J Deega researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, one of the authors of the study.

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Although there is no consensus on the migration process, it is often believed to occur through a violent process, involving the deflection of one planet from its orbit by interaction with another.

However, the authors of this research believe that the planets orbiting TOI-500 may have always been in nearly circular orbits and then migrated inwards following a slow, nonviolent migration process that lasted about 2 billion years.

silent pattern

“This is a pattern of silent migration, in which the planets move slowly in orbits closer and closer to their star, without colliding with each other and without leaving their orbits,” he adds. Philip Murgasalso an IAC researcher and co-author of the article.

Until now, it had never been shown that such a scenario could justify the existence and architecture of planetary systems as peculiar as the one represented by TOI-500.

In their article, the authors present simulations showing that the planets orbiting TOI-500 may have formed in nearly circular orbits and then migrated following a so-called secular, quasi-static process that lasted about 2 billion years.

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“This is a model of silent migration in which the planets, without colliding with each other, move along orbits that remain almost circular and get smaller and smaller,” he explains. Maria Luisa Serranoresearch director.

Useful Simulations

The article demonstrates the importance of combining the discovery of systems hosting short-orbiting planets with mathematical simulations to test possible migration processes that may have led to their current configuration.

“The acquisition of data over long periods of time allows us to study the internal architecture of systems similar to TOI-500 and understand how the planets settled in their orbits”, concludes Luisa Maria Serrano.

TOI-500b was initially identified by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space telescope, which searches for exoplanets using the transit method. This method allows us to identify the planets that periodically darken their star, causing a decrease in the light we receive.

Subsequently, the planet was confirmed thanks to an intense observation campaign carried out with the HARPS spectrograph of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

The study’s data covers a full year, and its analysis, combined with that of the TESS data, made it possible to measure the inner planet’s mass, radius, and orbital parameters.

Reference

A low-eccentricity migration pathway for a 13-h-period Earth analogue in a four-planet system. Luisa Maria Serrano et al. Nature Astronomy (2022). DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-022-01641-y

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