An international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of TOI-1452 b, an exoplanet located just 100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco that could become the best candidate yet for a water-covered ocean world.
If confirmed, the potentially “ocean” exoplanet, which orbits a star in a binary system, and which would be neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on its surface, could be a tempting new target in the search for extraterrestrial life.
According to scientists, measurements of its size and mass – slightly larger in size and mass than Earth – suggest a density profile consistent with a global liquid ocean, similar to some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Similarly, they claim to believe that worlds like this are possible, but have yet to find any conclusively.
“TOI-1452 b is one of the best ocean planet candidates we have found to date,” said Charles Cadieux, lead author of the study. article published in The AstronomicalJournal, and doctoral student at the University of Montreal, it’s a statement.
“Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than would be expected for a planet that is basically made of metal and rock, like Earth,” he added.
The planet is suspected to be rocky like Earth, but much wetter. According to the team’s analysis, it could be made up of 30 percent water by mass, an amount considerably higher than that of Earth, which is less than one percent.
Water may be much more abundant on some exoplanets
According to the press release from the University of Montreal, in recent years, astronomers have identified and determined the radius and mass of many exoplanets with a size between that of Earth and Neptune (about 3.8 times larger than the Earth). Land).
Some of these planets have a density that can only be explained if a large fraction of their mass is made up of materials lighter than those that make up the internal structure of the Earth, such as water. These hypothetical worlds have been dubbed “ocean planets.”
James Webb telescope could give a more confident opinion
Now, it will be necessary to continue with the observations of the James Webb Space Telescope to study the atmosphere of the exoplanet and issue a more certain opinion on the nature of TOI-1452b, but the initial results are very intriguing.
“Our observations with the Webb telescope will be essential to better understand TOI-1452 b,” said astronomer René Doyon of the University of Montreal, who summarized James Webb’s conception of the NIRISS component. “As soon as we can, we’ll set aside time on the Webb to look at this weird and wonderful world,” he added.
The team detected hints of the exoplanet’s existence in data collected by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space telescope. After the first detection, they focused on their target using an instrument installed at the Mont-Mégantic Observatory (OMM), an observatory located in Quebec, Canada.
Source DW | Photo Illustration.