Astronomers at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are always on the lookout for new planets and stars throughout the universe. One of the main goals is to detect liquid water in extraterrestrial sources.
Now astronomers may have identified a potential planet covered in water. The research team used NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) along with ground-based telescopic instruments to identify an exoplanet, a planet outside our solar system that may be as rocky as Earth but could be covered by vast oceans.
Planet TOI-1452 b has been identified as a “super-Earth” class planet by a team of researchers from the University of Montreal using TESS and the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM). The planet orbits a binary red dwarf system, the end of the line for one of the smallest classes of stars. The planet is at a short distance from the main star, its “year” lasts only 11 days, but is still in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist, since the star’s luminosity and heat are quite low.
This classification means the planet is much more massive than Earth, but still a rocky territorial planet and significantly less massive than ice giants (like Uranus and Neptune) and gas giants (like Saturn and Jupiter).
Specifically, TOI-1452 b is 70 percent larger than Earth but about five times as massive. This disproportionate density means TOI-1452 b could have impossibly deep oceans, similar to those thought to be buried on Europa, Titan and Ganymede, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
Interestingly, planet TOI-1452 b is relatively close in our cosmic neighborhood. The planet is “only” 100 light-years away, which means that if we travel at the speed of light (which is physically impossible) it would take us “only” a century to reach the planet.
While further studies of planet TOI-1452 b are needed to confirm the presence of water on its surface along with other details, the planet is perfectly positioned to be studied by the James Webb Space Telescope. The planet isn’t the closest “super-Earth” we know of, Proxima Centauri b is just over 4 light-years away and technically in the habitable zone. But planet TOI-1452 b is an exoplanet that is both close enough and can be full of water. Although the JWST will need to probe the planet to confirm the presence of H20.
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