June 30, 2022

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Sub-Neptune is in the habitable zone of its star.  Could life be there?

Sub-Neptune is in the habitable zone of its star. Could life be there?

A team led by scientists from the University of Bern has observed an exoplanet that is one of the so-called Neptunes. This object orbits around the red dwarf and is located within the habitable zone of its star.

Red dwarfs are cooler than the sun. They are extremely common and are estimated to constitute up to 80 percent of all stars in our galaxy. Unfortunately, when viewed from the perspective of the survival of life around these things, the chance of this seems low, as red dwarfs have relatively high instability. Close enough, however, they provide the conditions under which water can remain liquid.

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And since the probability of discovering exoplanets increases with the decreasing distance between them and their hosts, this discovery in this case proved to be very easy. The results are posted on this In astronomy and astrophysics He described how researchers were able to discover the exoplanet TOI-2257 b. They used the transit method, which means they focused on dips in the observed star’s brightness that could be caused by an object orbiting it, such as a planet.

The first observations of TOI-2257 b were made using the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) telescope. After four months of this research, astronomers used the instruments that make up the Las Cumbres Observatory. Initially, it was believed that researchers were dealing with an exoplanet with an orbital period of 176, 88, 59, 44 or 35 days. Over time, most of these options were ruled out, and the latter was considered the most likely.

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The exoplanet TOI-2257 b is one of the so-called Neptune

With this knowledge, scientists suggest that TOI-2257 b is close enough to its star for liquid water to remain on the planet’s surface. And since the characteristic object often passes in front of its host’s target, astronomers will have plenty of opportunities to study its features. The radius of TOI-2257 b is 2.2 times the radius of our planet. This indicates that the planet is most likely a gaseous planet, and the pressure there prevents the existence of all known forms of life.

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What else did the members of the research team learn? TOI-2257 b has a temperature range of -80 to about 100°C. The orbit of this object appears to be very irregular, which may be a result of the presence of another massive planet orbiting the red dwarf. The presence of such a giant could disrupt the orbit of TOI 2257 b. Further observations focusing on the radial velocity of this exoplanet should provide more information on this issue.