Almost 60 light-years from our solar system lurks an exoplanet known as Pi Mensae c, and while there may or may not be life there, this Earth-like planet is nevertheless quite important.
It is the very first exoplanet that NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) Space Telescope has officially discovered.
As the Inquisitr reported, TESS have also just released their first image — which shows numerous constellations and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds within it — which is a marvel to gaze at. While the TESS Space Telescope only began its work on July 25, between this photograph and the recent discovery of a new exoplanet, TESS is on a roll.
In its search for mysterious and faraway exoplanets, TESS spends its time scanning space to determine whether there are any dips in a star’s brightness. If there is such a dip, this is a very good indication that there may be an exoplanet that is either transiting or orbiting the star.
According to Gizmodo, in the preprint paper of their new study, the authors note that the TESS Space Telescope is already keeping its promise with its recent discovery.
“Here, we report on the discovery of a transiting planet around Pi Mensae, exactly the type of planet TESS was designed to detect. TESS has begun to fulfill its promise to enlarge the collection of small, transiting planets orbiting bright stars. Such stars enable precise measurements of that planet’s mass and radius.”
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) September 19, 2018
Pi Mensae c is a reasonably sized exoplanet, described as a super-Earth. It has 4.82 times the mass of Earth, with 2.14 times its radius. This exoplanet completes its orbit every 5.7 years and is believed to be much too close to its own sun to harbor life.
While it is still much too early to determine exactly what this exoplanet may look like in greater detail, surveys taken through the TESS Space Telescope indicate that it has helium, water, methane and hydrogen, and also contains a rocky core that is comprised of large amounts of iron.
However, once the James Webb Space Telescope is fully functioning, this telescope and the Gaia spacecraft should give us a much better picture of the newly discovered exoplanet.
With a full two years of studying around 500,000 stars — and its recent find of its first exoplanet within just two months of beginning its operations — TESS should hopefully have many more discoveries like this to share over the coming months.
Details on the new discovery of exoplanet Pi Mensae c by NASA’s TESS Space Telescope have been published in Cornell University Library’s arXiv.org.