NASA’s TESS Satellite Reaches Unprecedented Number of Possible Exoplanets

NASA’s TESS Satellite Reaches Unprecedented Number of Possible Exoplanets
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Not too long ago, until 1992, astronomers weren’t absolutely sure that exoplanets existed, meaning planets that revolve around other stars except for our Sun. Three decades ago, this changed when scientists located the first exoplanet ever.

Meanwhile, thousands of exoplanets had been found by astronomers, and they’re now approaching a spectacular number. 

5,000 exoplanets?

According to Phys.org, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) reached an important milestone: more than 5,000 TOIs were found, meaning TESS Objects of Interest. This means the official catalog of objects that can be recognized as planets.

The Faint Star Search that was led by MIT postdoc Michelle Kunimoto is to blame for the new discoveries. Kunimoto declared, as quoted by Phys.org:

This time last year, TESS had found just over 2,400 TOIs. Today, TESS has reached more than twice that number—a huge testament to the mission and all the teams scouring the data for new planets. I’m excited to see thousands more in the years to come!

The TOIs that were added in late December come as a result of the third year of the TESS mission, one that took place from July 2020 to June 2021.

TOI manager Katharine Hesse said, as quoted by the same source mentioned above:

With data from the first year of the extended mission, we have found dozens of additional candidates to TOIs found during the prime mission. I am excited to see how many multi-planet systems we can find during the rest of the extended mission and in upcoming years with TESS.

Sure, you might wonder why astronomers discovered only a few thousands of planets when they found billions of stars and perhaps even more galaxies. That’s because exoplanets usually don’t emit any light, and one way of finding them is to wait so they’ll pass in front of their host stars, relative to the observer. That moment is hard to spot, and one of the reasons is that not all stars have planets revolving around them.


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Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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