Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

TESS planet hunter gifts NASA two new exoplanets

TESS planet hunter gifts NASA two new exoplanets

In an explosion of research over the last three decades, spearheaded by NASA's Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft, astronomers have concluded that there are billions of planets, including potentially habitable rocky worlds like Earth, in the Milky Way galaxy.

Also in the image are the bright stars Beta (β) Gruis and R Doradus - so bright, in fact, that they saturate the columns around them as the light gathered by the detector fills it to capacity and spills into adjacent pixels.

The cameras recorded dozens of constellations, in particular, the photo shows the closest to our galaxy and the Large and Small Magellanic clouds.

The full strip of images taken in a thirty-minute period on August 7 2018.

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The small bright dot above the Small Magellanic Cloud is a globular cluster - a spherical collection of hundreds of thousands of stars - called NGC 104, also known as 47 Tucanae because of its location in the southern constellation Toucana, the Toucan. Together, the cameras let TESS scan a narrow strip of the sky stretching from the polar region to the equator.

The US' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a jaw-dropping new image captured by its newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

TESS' cameras are actually on the hunt for transits, celestial events that occur when a planet passes in front of its star. Closer, brighter stars are easier to follow up on from the ground, allowing astronomers to confirm whether a planet is present and, ideally, learn more about the planet via other means, such as by taking spectra (which can reveal the composition of the planet's atmosphere if it exists).

TESS will spend two years monitoring of the 26 sectors of the sky for 27 days each. Most importantly, the majority of them have been identified for the first time. Then TESS will turn to the 13 sectors of the northern sky to carry out a second year-long survey. It reached the orbit, successfully completed tests and even sent awesome images to Earth. The Deep Space Network receives the data from the spacecraft and forwards them back to Earth. From a satellite's perspective, this results in a decrease in the star's brightness. On the other hand, TESS will try to find planets that are closer to us, between the 300 and 100 light-years range. The brightness of TESS' targets make them ideal candidates for follow-up study with spectroscopy, the study of how matter and light interact. TESS will spend a year or so on the southern hemisphere and then work its way to the northern hemisphere, collecting an vast amount of data and relaying it back to scientists on Earth.

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