The Atmosphere of a Newfound Exoplanet Captures the Astronomers’ Attention

The Atmosphere of a Newfound Exoplanet Captures the Astronomers’ Attention
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About 30 years ago, astronomers weren’t sure that planets could exist on other solar systems except for our own. The first exoplanets were discovered in 1992 when radio astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail announced that they found two planets orbiting the pulsar PSR 1257+12.

As for now, the astronomers’ catalogue is teeming with confirmed exoplanets. Some of them are more intriguing than others, and it’s incredible that even today, scientists are amazed by what they find.

Meet TOI-1231 b, an exoplanet with a substantial atmosphere and a small host star

Phys.org brings the news about the discovery of TOI-1231 b, an exoplanet that captured the attention of an international group of scientists, including researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA and The University of New Mexico.

While discovering the planet, these scientists also found exciting research opportunities because of the object’s small star, substantial atmosphere, and how fast the whole system departs from Earth. TO-1231 b is a temperate sub-Neptune sized exoplanet that makes a full orbit around its M dwarf star in only 24 days.

The newfound exoplanet was found using data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Observations using the Planet Finder Spectrograph (PFS) mounted on the Magellan Clay telescope from Las Campanas Observatory in Chile were also used.

NASA JPL scientist Jennifer Burt, who is the lead author of the paper, declared:

Working with a group of excellent astronomers spread across the globe, we were able to assemble the data necessary to characterize the host star and measure both the radius and mass of the planet.

Burt also added:

Those values in turn allowed us to calculate the planet’s bulk density and hypothesize about what the planet is made out of. TOI-1231 b is pretty similar in size and density to Neptune, so we think it has a similarly large, gaseous atmosphere.

The new research will be published in a future issue of The Astronomical Journal.


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