An international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of an “oceanic exoplanet” orbiting a star in a binary system just 100 light-years from Earth. If confirmed, the discovery could make the “ocean planet” an interesting target in the search for extraterrestrial life.
The exoplanet, designated TOI -1452b, is slightly larger than Earth in both size and mass and is located in the “habitable zone,” meaning it is just the right distance from its star for water to exist in a liquid state on its surface.
A study explaining the discovery was published in The Astronomical Journal.
“TOI -1452 b is one of the best candidates for an ocean planet discovered to date. Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than we would expect for a planet composed essentially of metal and rock, like Earth,” explains Charles Cadieux, lead author and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montréal. Canada.
A rocky planet, just like Earth
The researchers suggest that the planet is made of rock, just like Earth, but is much “wetter.” According to the team’s analysis, the exoplanet could consist of up to 30 percent water, significantly more than Earth, which has less than 1 percent.
The team discovered evidence of the exoplanet’s existence in data collected by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite space telescope (TESS) from NASA. The scientists then took a closer look at the target using an instrument from the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM), an observatory in Quebec, Canada.
Webb will observe “this strange and wonderful world”
The researchers now hope to use the James Webb Space Telescope, which could prove “crucial to a better understanding of the exoplanet TOI -1452 b,” according to René Doyon, a professor at the University of Montréal and one of the authors of the research paper.
“We will reserve the Webb telescope as soon as possible to observe this strange and wonderful world,” Doyon said, as quoted by Futurism.