NASA uncovers 10 alien planets while on mission to find Earth-like one


NASA uncovers 10 alien planets while on mission to find Earth-like one

NASA is always on the lookout for new planets.

Scientists at the US space agency and other institutions across the globe hope to find habitable exoplanets that host life or could support us in the future.

Nasa uses its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to make a lot of its discoveries.

It finds exoplanets, meaning planets outside our Solar System, by measuring if light is dimmed when a suspected planet passes across a star.

This can be a long and tedious process as several transits of a planet may be needed in order to confirm its existence.

The US space agency has found quite a few planets this way and highlighted ten of the most interesting examples.

Brown dwarf planet

Brown dwarfs are celestial objects that aren’t technically stars or planets.

This is why it was so unusual when Nasa’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted a planet orbiting a brown dwarf called CFHTWIR-Oph 98.

An artist's conception illustrates the brown dwarf, CFHTWIR-Oph 98 b.An artist’s conception illustrates the brown dwarf, CFHTWIR-Oph 98 b. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Planet with two suns

Nasa used TESS to detect a planet called TIC 172900988 b.

It’s unusual because it orbits two stars.

That’s like Earth orbiting two suns.

Proxima Centauri C

You may have heard of this exoplanet before.

It’s popular because it orbits a star called Proxima Centauri, which is the closest star to our Sun.

It was spotted in 2016 and is 4.25-light-years away.

Proxima Centauri C is said to be a rocky exoplanet but it’s not thought to be habitable.

Boiling super-Earth

A super-Earth is a rocky planet several times the mass of our own world.

Super-Earth HD 108236 b is over three times the mass of our planet.

A year on the planet is technically 3.8 days because it orbits its star so quickly.

We wouldn’t be able to survive on this ‘super-Earth’ because the surface temperature is estimated at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (825 degrees Celsius).

Rendering of 11-Jupiter-mass exoplanet called HD106906 b.This 11-Jupiter-mass exoplanet called HD106906 b occupies an unlikely orbit around a double star 336 light-years away.ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser

An odd orbiter

Exoplanet HD 106906 was spotted in 2013 but Nasa didn’t realize it had such a strange orbit until 2020.

The planet is about 68 billion miles from its star.

That means one year on the planet is like 15,000 Earth years.

Recent find

Exoplanet OGLE-2019-BLG-0960 b was only spotted last year.

It’s a rocky planet and is about 1.4 and 3.1 times the mass of Earth.

An illustration of exoplanet TIC 172900988 b.Exoplanet TIC 172900988 b is unusual because it orbits two stars.NASA/JPL-Caltech

Deep in space

The next unusual exoplanet on the list was actually discovered in a different galaxy.

A lot of exoplanets are found in the Milky Way but planet M51-ULS-1b was found in the Whirlpool Galaxy in 2020.

It’s 28 million light-years away so we won’t be visiting any time soon.

Wobbling planet

Exoplanet TVLM 513B was only spotted because of its tiny wobble.

Scientists used a method called astrometry, which uses very precise measurements to spot orbiting planets.

Hell on Earth

Exoplanet GJ 367 b was announced in December 2021.

It orbits its star in just eight hours and its temperature is said to be 2,700 °F (1,500 °C) in its daytime.

Artist’s concept of Mars-sized exoplanet GJ 376 b orbiting its red dwarf star.Exoplanet GJ 376 b orbits its star in just eight hours.NASA/ ESA/ G. Bacon (STScI)/ MIT

Earth-size exoplanet

This Earth-size exoplanet was discovered in 2015.

You wouldn’t want to live on planet GJ 1132.

Nasa’s Hubble Space Telescope indicates that it has a brutal secondary atmosphere containing cyanide and methane.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.

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