According to a recent study from The Astronomical Journal, a team of astronomers discovered the young worlds with data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (also known as TESS). The planets are revolving around a star known as TOI 451.
The system can be found in a newly-found Pisces-Eridanus stellar stream between 2-3% the age of our solar system, spanning across one-third of the sky. The “rivers” of stars form when the Milky Way’s gravity rips apart clusters of stars and dwarf galaxies, producing an elongated grouping that keeps on dispersing into a stream as time passes.
Lead researcher Elisabeth Newton stated:
“This system checks a lot of boxes for astronomers […] It’s only 120 million years old and just 400 light-years away, allowing detailed observations of this young planetary system. And because there are three planets between two and four times Earth’s size, they make especially promising targets for testing theories about how planetary atmospheres evolve.”
The Pisces-Eridanus, which got its name for the constellations with the greatest number of stars, spans across 14 constellations in total, at nearly 1,300 light-years long.
Researchers figured out that it is only 120 million years old, approximately eight times less than past estimates suggested. Its infant age makes it intriguing for studying planet and star formation, plus evolution.
TOI 451, the system’s star, also known under the name CD-38 1467, is placed in the constellation Eridanus, approximately 400 light-years away. It registers only 95% of our mass sun, but it is twelve per cent smaller, partially colder, and emits one third less energy.
TOI 451 revolves every 5.1 days, so five times faster than our sun.
“The sun of the newly discovered planets is like a teenager compared to our own sun. That means its planets are still changing and evolving,” Newton said.
The trio of planets is extremely hot and inhospitable to life as it is found on Earth, orbiting their host star three times closer than Mercury ever does.
Temperatures range between 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit for the nearest planet to 840F on the most distant one.
Their sizes range between those of Earth and Neptune.
Though there are over four thousand known planets outside our solar system, most of them are older and much more distant from Earth than the newly-found system.
According to the research team, only seven other young systems with multiple transiting planets have ever been discovered.
The trio gives scientists the once-in-a-lifetime chance of studying a group of growing planets.
The astronomers plan to keep on studying the planets with help from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its planned successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, to examine how systems like the one we belong to evolve.
“By studying these planets in the context of others, we can piece together the picture of how planets form and develop,” Newton added.
It’s frightening, to say the least when you look at the fact that we have little to no idea of what lurks in outer space. We haven’t even fully explored Earth – We haven’t explored the majority of the oceans’ depths, so, on a planetary scale, space is a real mystery.
However, science steadily progresses, and we are getting closer and closer to finding an Earth-like planet that may be our second chance if things get too messy around here.