After a year of observations, NASA’s TESS (Traffic Exoplanet Study Satellite) telescope discovered new interesting planets just 31 light-years away from Earth. One of them is the GJ 357 d, a super-earth that could be suitable for humanity to inhabit.
GJ 357 d is an exoplanet, that is, a planet that orbits a star outside our solar system. This discovered NASA’s telescope and two other planets orbiting a dwarf star M called GJ 357 in the constellation Hydra. The star is not as ‘monstrous’ as our sun: it is 40% cooler and has a third of its mass.
The planet GJ 357 d, meanwhile, is 6.1 times the mass of our planet, a characteristic that makes it super earth. It also orbits its star at a distance where the temperature could allow the necessary conditions for life, such as liquid water and a “friendly” atmosphere.
“GJ 357 d is within the outer edge of the habitable zone of its star, where it receives approximately the same amount of star energy from its star as Mars of the Sun,” said Diana Kossakowski, co-author of the study at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.
The researcher stressed that if the super-earth discovered by NASA has a dense atmosphere, it could trap enough heat to generate the conditions that allow liquid water on its surface; although “future studies [of GJ 357 d] will be required to determine it”.
While it remains to be defined if the super earth is rocky like our planet, it is known to orbit around its star every 55.7 days and has an average temperature of -17.8 ° C, although an atmosphere can make it warmer.
To have a more precise reference of how close the super-earth is to have the Earth’s thermal conditions: the average temperature on Mars is -55 ° C, and on Earth, it is 14 ° C.
“This is exciting because this is the first nearby super-earth of humanity that could host life, discovered with the help of TESS, our powerful little mission with a great reach,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, author of the study, associate professor of astronomy and director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell.
According to the professor, the planet GJ 357 d could keep liquid water on its surface, as well as the Earth, and that, in addition, we could detect signs of life with the next telescopes that will soon come into operation.
Where was the information about the planet GJ 357 d released?
The discovery was collected in the scientific journal Astronomist & Astrophysics, by an international group led by researchers from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, who used data obtained from several terrestrial observatories.
This is a European magazine that publishes articles on astrophysics and theoretical, observational and instrumental astronomy. It was published by Springer Science + Business Media between 1969 and 2000, while EDP Sciences published its companion A&A Supplement Series.