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NASA Has Now Confirmed More Than 5,000 Planets Outside Our Solar System (IGN)

kingfey

Banned

NASA has now confirmed that more than 5,000 planets exist outside our solar system, which is "just a fraction" of the likely hundreds of billions in our galaxy.

The planetary odometer turned on March 21, as NASA officially added 65 more planets to its Exoplanet Archive, bringing the total number of confirmed, detectable planets beyond our solar system to over 5,000 — with 35% of these planets being categorized as Neptune-like, 31% identified as "super-Earths," 30% as gas giants, and only 4% terrestrial.

The percentages represent the variety of planets that have been discovered so far, with some being similar to those in our solar system, and others vastly different. There are "small, rocky worlds like Earth, gas giants many times larger than Jupiter, and hot Jupiters" as well as "super-Earths, which are possible rocky worlds bigger than our own, and mini-Neptunes."

"It's not just a number," said Jessie Christiansen, science lead for the archive and a research scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech in Pasadena, in a statement accompanying the announcement. "Each one of them is a new world, a brand-new planet. I get excited about every one because we don't know anything about them."

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory shared a video to celebrate the cosmic milestone, which was largely achieved by using powerful telescopes, both in space and on the ground. The first confirmed planetary discovery arrived in the 1990s when astronomer Alexander Wolszczan and his colleagues published a paper showing evidence of two planets orbiting a pulsar.

"To my thinking, it is inevitable that we'll find some kind of life somewhere–most likely of some primitive kind," Wolszczan said, noting how the "close connection between the chemistry of life on Earth and chemistry found throughout the universe, as well as the detection of widespread organic molecules, suggests detection of life itself is only a matter of time."

Thousands of planets logged in the archive were found using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, and there are likely hundreds of billions more to discover with next-gen instruments. The James Webb Space Telescope was recently launched to assist research into habitable conditions, while the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is expected to launch in 2027.

Astronomers previously discovered 139 new "minor planets" in the far reaches of our solar system, just beyond Neptune's orbit. The vast expanse of the galaxy also plays host to a free-floating world without a host star, a "hell planet" that is strangely similar to Darth Vader's lava homeworld of Mustafar, and a Super-Earth that's nearly as old as the universe itself.
 
 

Aggelos

Member
Astronomers previously discovered 139 new "minor planets" in the far reaches of our solar system, just beyond Neptune's orbit. The vast expanse of the galaxy also plays host to a free-floating world without a host star, a "hell planet" that is strangely similar to Darth Vader's lava homeworld of Mustafar, and a Super-Earth that's nearly as old as the universe itself.

The old super-earth is TOI-561b, whereas the lava homeworld is K2-141b.


TOI 561 is an old, metal-poor Sun-like star, known to have multiple small planets. It is an orange dwarf, estimated to be 10.5 billion years old, and about 79% the mass and 85% the radius of Sol, Earth's sun.
TOI-561b is an USP Super-Earth with a radius of roughly 1.4 Earths. It has an extremely short orbital period of under 11 hours, less than half of an Earth day, resulting in an equilibrium temperature of 2,480 ± 200 K (2,207 ± 200 °C; 4,004 ± 360 °F).] Lacedelli 2020, found a mass of only 1.59 Earths and a density of 3.0 grams per cubic centimeter, abnormally low for a planet of its size and suggesting a composition made of 50% or more of water. Even their higher mass estimate of 1.83 Earths is still consistent with a water world. With an insolation 5,100 times greater than Earth, TOI-561b should have lost its gaseous layer and have little volatiles, so the authors believe if the planet has a significant amount of water, it has been evaporated into a puffy steam atmosphere that makes the planet seem larger, less dense, and more water-rich. If it is an extremely water-rich world, TOI-561b would prove formation scenarios about Super-Earths forming beyond the "Snow Line" and migrating inwards.









K2-141b is a massive rocky exoplanet orbiting extremely close to an orange main-sequence star K2-141. Despite its terrestrial nature, K2-141b is far from habitable. Its extremely close proximity to its host star has resulted in an equilibrium temperature of about 2,039 K (1,766 °C; 3,211 °F). About two-thirds of K2-141b faces perpetual daylight. The night side experiences frigid temperatures of below −200 °C (73.1 K; −328.0 °F). The day side of the exoplanet, at an estimated 3,000 °C (3,270 K; 5,430 °F), is hot enough to not only melt rocks but vaporize them as well. K2-141b is believed to have both an atmosphere and oceans, which are magma and likely tens of kilometers deep. The makeup of the atmosphere is unknown but likely consists of vaporized metals which are common in solid form on Earth. The atmosphere is believed to have extreme wind speeds of over 1.75 kilometers per second. Temperatures are high enough that the magma in the oceans can vaporize into the atmosphere. The mineral vapor formed by evaporated rock is swept to the frigid night side by supersonic winds and rocks "rain" back down into a magma ocean. The resulting currents flow back to the hot day side of the exoplanet, where rock evaporates once more.


 
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