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Super Earth Planet Found Orbiting Old Star in Milky Way

Mar, 2021

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The super earth planet named TOI-561b is around 50% larger and has triple the mass of Earth. It has been discovered revolving round its host star taking up to 12 hours to complete one round.

According to the team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, owing to the proximity with its host star, the TOI-561b has a surface temperature of around 1,726 °C which is extremely high to host any life form. The researchers also mentioned in their statement that the density of the exoplanet is similar to Earth’s density, which is contrary to what the team had anticipated. This further reinforces the fact that TOI-561b is an old planet. The low density of the planet also suggests that it is composed of fewer elements. Fusion reactions occurring in the hearts of the stars create magnesium, iron and other heavy elements. These elements keep accumulating in the galaxy as stars expel more and more materials into space when they perish in supernovas.

According to lead author, Lauren Weiss, the TOI-561b may have formed approximately 10 billion years ago, and its host star, TOI-561, is one of the rare stars located in the galactic thick disk. Stars in this region have lesser amount of heavy elements compared to stars located in the Milky Way. Weiss further adds that the exoplanet is among the oldest, rocky planets that have been discovered. NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) helped the team discover and characterize TOI-561b. The planetary system which hosts TOI-561b is located approximately 280 light years from Earth. It also houses two more known planets which are much bigger, but not as dense as TOI-561b. The recently discovered planet is unlikely to be populated, however it serves as a forerunner of many such undiscovered rocky planets scattered across our galaxy, the authors concluded.

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