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New Multiplanet System Near Earth

Para astronom menemukan sistem multi-planet terdekat dengan dua planet seukuran Bumi

Para astronom MIT telah menemukan sistem multiplanet baru yang terletak 10 parsec, atau sekitar 33 tahun cahaya, dari Bumi, menjadikannya salah satu sistem multiplanet yang paling dekat dengan sistem kita. Bintang di inti sistem kemungkinan menampung setidaknya dua planet terestrial seukuran Bumi. Kredit: MIT News, dengan karakter TESS Satellite milik NASA

Terletak hanya 33 tahun cahaya dari Bumi, sistem ini tampaknya menampung dua planet berbatu seukuran Bumi.

Sebuah sistem multi-planet baru telah ditemukan di galaksi tetangga kita oleh para astronom di[{” attribute=””>MIT and elsewhere. It lies just 10 parsecs, or about 33 light-years, from Earth, making it one of the closest known multiplanet systems to our own.

At the heart of the system lies a small and cool M-dwarf star, named HD 260655, and astronomers have found that it hosts at least two terrestrial, Earth-sized planets. The rocky worlds have relatively tight orbits, exposing the planets to temperatures that are too high to sustain liquid surface water. Therefore, they are unlikely to be habitable.

Nevertheless, scientists are excited about this system because the proximity and brightness of its star will give them a closer look at the properties of the planets and signs of any atmosphere they might hold.

“Both planets in this system are each considered among the best targets for atmospheric study because of the brightness of their star,” says Michelle Kunimoto, a postdoc in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and one of the discovery’s lead scientists. “Is there a volatile-rich atmosphere around these planets? And are there signs of water or carbon-based species? These planets are fantastic test beds for those explorations.”

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The team will present its discovery on June 15, 2022, at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena, California. Team members at MIT include Katharine Hesse, George Ricker, Sara Seager, Avi Shporer, Roland Vanderspek, and Joel Villaseñor, along with collaborators from institutions around the world.

NASA TESS in Space

Illustration of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) at work. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Data power

The new planetary system was initially identified by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), an MIT-led mission that is designed to observe the nearest and brightest stars, and detect periodic dips in light that could signal a passing planet.

In October 2021, Kunimoto, a member of MIT’s TESS science team, was monitoring the satellite’s incoming data when she noticed a pair of periodic dips in starlight, or transits, from the star HD 260655.

She ran the detections through the mission’s science inspection pipeline, and the signals were soon classified as two TESS Objects of Interest, or TOIs — objects that are flagged as potential planets. The same signals were also found independently by the Science Processing Operations Center (SPOC), the official TESS planet search pipeline based at NASA Ames. Scientists typically plan to follow up with other telescopes to confirm that the objects are indeed planets.

The process of classifying and subsequently confirming new planets can often take several years. For HD 260655, that process was shortened significantly with the help of archival data.

Keck Observatory Domes

The Keck observatory domes atop Mauna Kea. Credit: T. Wynne / JPL

Soon after Kunimoto identified the two potential planets around HD 260655, Shporer looked to see whether the star was observed previously by other telescopes. As luck would have it, HD 260655 was listed in a survey of stars taken by the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES), an instrument that operates as part of the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. HIRES had been monitoring the star, along with a host of other stars, since 1998, and the researchers were able to access the survey’s publicly available data.

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HD 260655 was also listed as part of another independent survey by CARMENES, an instrument that operates as part of the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain. As these data were private, the team reached out to members of both HIRES and CARMENES with the goal of combining their data power.

“These negotiations are sometimes quite delicate,” Shporer notes. “Luckily, the teams agreed to work together. This human interaction is almost as important in getting the data [as the actual observations]. “

tarikan planet

Pada akhirnya, upaya kolaboratif ini dengan cepat mengkonfirmasi keberadaan dua planet di sekitar HD 260655 dalam waktu sekitar enam bulan.

Untuk memastikan bahwa sinyal dari TESS memang berasal dari dua planet yang mengorbit, para peneliti melihat data dari HIRES dan CARMENES bintang tersebut. Kedua survei mengukur osilasi gravitasi bintang, juga dikenal sebagai kecepatan radialnya.

“Setiap planet yang mengorbit bintang akan memiliki gaya gravitasi kecil pada bintangnya,” jelas Kunimoto. “Apa yang kami cari adalah pergerakan kecil dari bintang itu yang bisa mengindikasikan objek bermassa planet menariknya.”

Dari kedua kumpulan data arsip, para peneliti menemukan sinyal yang signifikan secara statistik bahwa sinyal yang dideteksi oleh TESS memang dua planet yang mengorbit.

“Kemudian kami tahu kami memiliki sesuatu yang sangat menarik,” kata Sporer.

Tim kemudian melihat dari dekat data TESS untuk menentukan karakteristik kedua planet, termasuk periode dan ukuran orbitnya. Mereka menentukan bahwa planet bagian dalam, yang dijuluki HD 260655b, mengorbit bintang setiap 2,8 hari dan berukuran sekitar 1,2 kali ukuran Bumi. Planet ekstrasurya kedua, HD 260655c, berotasi setiap 5,7 hari dan 1,5 kali lebih besar dari Bumi.

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Dari data kecepatan radial dari HIRES dan CARMENES, para peneliti dapat menghitung massa planet, yang secara langsung berhubungan dengan amplitudo yang ditarik setiap planet pada bintangnya. Mereka menemukan bahwa planet bagian dalam memiliki massa dua kali massa Bumi, sedangkan planet luar memiliki massa sekitar tiga kali massa Bumi. Dari ukuran dan massanya, tim memperkirakan kepadatan setiap planet. Planet dalam yang lebih kecil sedikit lebih padat daripada Bumi, sedangkan planet luar yang lebih besar sedikit kurang padat. Kemungkinan kedua planet, tergantung pada kepadatannya, adalah terestrial atau berbatu dalam komposisi.

Para peneliti juga memperkirakan, berdasarkan orbitnya yang pendek, bahwa permukaan bagian dalam planet ini bersuhu 710 K (818 derajat).[{” attribute=””>Fahrenheit), while the outer planet is around 560 °K (548 °F).

“We consider that range outside the habitable zone, too hot for liquid water to exist on the surface,” Kunimoto says.

“But there might be more planets in the system,” Shporer adds. “There are many multiplanet systems hosting five or six planets, especially around small stars like this one. Hopefully, we will find more, and one might be in the habitable zone. That’s optimistic thinking.”

This research was supported, in part, by NASA, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, and the European Regional Development Fund.