Exoplanets are often intriguing – They sometimes provide glimpses into the Universe’s formation and often contain traces of a formidable past.
However, a newly discovered exoplanet may have an exciting present for scientists – an atmosphere!
Diana Dragomir, an exoplanetologist, said in an interview with The Daily Galaxy: “TOI-1231b promises to give us a glimpse into the rate of atmospheric evaporation caused by its M dwarf star, which we then hope to extrapolate from in order to learn more about atmospheric escape for terrestrial M dwarf planets, too.”
According to her, the planet joins the ranks of just two or three other nearby small exoplanets that get scrutinized every time scientists can via numerous advanced telescopes for years to come. Scientists will certainly carefully monitor the evolution of the exoplanet.
The discovery grants numerous research opportunities to scientists due to the exoplanet’s considerable atmosphere and the tiny host star.
The research was conducted by an international group of collaborators, including scientists of NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and The University of New Mexico and was named “TOI-1231 b: A Temperate, Neptune-Sized Planet Transiting the Nearby M3 Dwarf NLTT 24399.”
The exoplanet was found with help from photometric data of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and completed some observations with data from the Planet Finder Spectrograph (PFS) on the Magellan Clay telescope from the Las Campanas Observatory of Chile.
The PFS is an advanced tool that can detect exoplanet from their gravitational impact on the stars they are orbiting.
As the planets complete their orbit, the measured stellar velocities change periodically, denoting the planetary presence and information regarding their mass and orbit.
The strategy adopted by TESS divides each hemisphere into 13 sectors that get surveyed for approximately 28 days, leading to the most comprehensive all-sky search for transiting planets.