An Extrasolar Planet 100 Light Years From Earth May be Entirely Covered in Water

by Muhammad Talha
An Extrasolar Planet 100 Light Years From Earth May be Entirely Covered in Water

A new planet has been discovered by an international team of researchers led by the University of Montreal. It is an extrasolar planet and could be entirely covered with water.

The new planet named TOI-1452b is about 100 light years away from the Earth. The exoplanet orbits one of two small stars and is located in Draco Constellation.

According to researchers, the exoplanet is slightly larger in size and mass than the Earth and is located in the “habitable zone” — where the temperature is not too hot nor too cold and is suitable for the water to exist on its surface.

According to NASA, extrasolar or exoplanets are those planets that are outside of our solar system. Most of the exoplanets orbit other stars such as the Earth orbits the sun. TOI-1452b is orbiting a red dwarf star in a binary star system.

Researchers believe that it could be an “Ocean Planet”, a planet that is entirely covered with a layer of water just like the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

“I’m extremely proud of this discovery because it shows a high caliber of our researchers and instruments,” said René Doyon, Professor, and Director of iREx at the University of Montreal.

Why is this Exoplanet so Special?

This isn’t the first-ever discovery of an exoplanet. Some of Jupiter’s and Saturn’s moons are covered with thick layers of water.

However, the TOI-1452b has something special and is different from others. Researchers predicted that the TOI-1452b is 70 percent larger and 5 times more massive than the Earth.

TOI-1452b is probably rocky like Earth but its low density suggests that a large fraction of its mass is composed of lighter materials than those that make up the Earth’s internal structure, such as water. Earth’s 70 percent is covered with water and makes up less than 1 percent of its mass. But it’s thought that the TOI-1452b is composed of 30 percent of water.

“TOI-1452b is one of the ideal candidates for an ocean planet we have found up to date,” said Cadieux, lead author of the research. “Its radius and mass suggest a lower density than what one would expect for a planet that is basically composed of metal and rock, like Earth”.

The research team used NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) for the first trial of TOI-1452b. TESS is a space telescope that searches for planetary systems.

Researchers find through TESS signal a slight decrease in the brightness every 11 days. This leads the researchers to believe that the exoplanet is 70 percent larger than Earth due to this quick orbit time.

NASA shared some interesting information about TOI-1452b. According to NASA, one year on TOI-1452b is only 11 days. Since it takes that much time to orbit around its star. The star “red dwarf” whom the exoplanet is orbiting is smaller and cooler than the sun. So the TOI-1452b receives as much light from its star as Venus receives from the sun.

Scientists believe that if this hypothesis is true that there is water on the TOI-1452b surface, it could lead us to a new target in the search for alien life.

It is noted that the research theory on planet density and status as an “ocean planet” needed to be confirmed. Scientists believe that it might be a huge rock with little or no atmosphere or even a rocky planet with an atmosphere made up of Hydron and Helium.

Perfectly Positioned for James Webb Space Telescope

The TOI-1452b is perfectly positioned for further study with the James Webb Space Telescope. It is one of the few known planets that consist of characteristics of an ocean planet. Further, it is close enough to Earth to study its atmosphere and test this hypothesis. It is located in a region where the telescope can observe any time of year.

Observation with James Webb Space Telescope is essential for a better understanding of the exoplanet. “As soon as we can, we will book time for on Webb Space Telescope to observe this strange and wonderful world.”

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