New and Exciting 'Hot Earth' Discovered by NASA's Exoplanet Searcher

Finding a new world offers a huge number of possibilities for space researchers, and this newest addition is no exception.

The Universe can be overwhelming when you think about it. There's still so much in space that's yet to be discovered. Luckily, with NASA's planet-hunting satellite Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, you can keep up to date with what's going on.

Speaking of planet-hunting, during one of her exoplanet-hunting quests, TESS discovered a piping-hot Earth-sized planet. During this mission, the satellite also found two new worlds orbiting the same star. 

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The star, known as GJ 357, has been analyzed by TESS, and its orbiting planet, GJ 357d is the one of particular interest.

What's so exciting about this discovery?

The GJ 357 system is roughly 31 light-years away and circulates in the star's habitable zone, and the GJ 357d is placed in its habitable zone. 

It's interesting because of its distance to our very own Solar System, but also because it receives as much energy from its star than Mars does, from our Sun. 

Given its orbit around its star only takes 55.7 Earth days, life on the planet would be quite different from our 365 days long years.

New and Exciting 'Hot Earth' Discovered by NASA's Exoplanet Searcher
This diagram shows the layout of the GJ 357 system. Planet d orbits within the star’s so-called habitable zone, the orbital region where liquid water can exist on a rocky planet’s surface. If it has a dense atmosphere, which will take future studies to determine, GJ 357 d could be warm enough to permit the presence of liquid water. Source: Chris Smith/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Its neighboring planet, GJ257b is 22% bigger than our own. That planet was what initially caught TESS' attention and which eventually led it to find the two new worlds. Different to Earth though it is, it's a balmy 257 degrees Celcius or 494 degrees Fahrenheit. Hence, it is being dubbed 'hot Earth.' 

Granted, at these temperatures the planet cannot sustain life, which is one of the main purposes for TESS' explorations, but, it remains significant because it is the third-nearest transiting exoplanet recorded to date.

New and Exciting 'Hot Earth' Discovered by NASA's Exoplanet Searcher
This illustration shows one interpretation of what GJ 357 d may be like.

The doctoral student in charge of leading the research at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, Rafael Luque, said: "It took TESS to point us to an interesting star where we could uncover them [the planets]."

TESS has been up roaming the skies for 12 months now and has discovered 21 planets and 850 potential exoplanets - planets outside of our solar system - in that time. 

The quest to find habitable planets continues.

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