Jupiter-like Gaseous Planet Discovered by NASA Citizen Scientist
- A citizen scientist has discovered a giant gaseous planet about 379 light-years from Earth, orbiting a star with the same mass as the Sun, NASA has said.
- The exoplanet, called TOI-2180 b, was discovered in data from NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
- TOI-2180 b is almost three times more massive than Jupiter but has the same diameter, meaning it is more dense than Jupiter.
- The Jupiter-sized planet is special for astronomers because its 261-day year is long compared to many known gas giants outside our solar system.
- With an average temperature of about 170 degrees Fahrenheit, TOI-2180 b is also warmer than room temperature on Earth and warmer than the outer planets of our solar system, including Jupiter and Saturn.
- But compared to the array of transiting giant exoplanets that astronomers have found orbiting other stars, NASA said TOI-2180 b is abnormally chilly.
- The result, published in the Astronomical Journal, also suggests the planet is just a bit farther from its star than Venus is from the Sun.
- The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life.
- The mission will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars, events called transits.
- TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets.
- TESS launched on April 18, 2018, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
- TESS scientists expect the mission will catalog thousands of planet candidates and vastly increase the current number of known exoplanets.
- Of these, approximately 300 are expected to be Earth-sized and super-Earth-sized exoplanets, which are worlds no larger than twice the size of Earth.
- TESS will find the most promising exoplanets orbiting our nearest and brightest stars, giving future researchers a rich set of new targets for more comprehensive follow-up studies.
- TESS will survey the entire sky over the course of two years by breaking it up into 26 different sectors, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across.
- The powerful cameras on the spacecraft will stare at each sector for at least 27 days, looking at the brightest stars at a two-minute cadence.