A rare planet has been discovered hundreds of light-years away, and it could be key to our understanding of the planet formations out there in the universe.
More than 5,300 exoplanets have been discovered, but few match the description of the newly recorded TOI-733b.
Found 245 light-years away, TOI-733b is nearly twice the size of Earth and orbits a sun slightly smaller than our own.
Although there are many exoplanets, there are a surprisingly small number between one and a half times the diameter of Earth and twice the size that make them interesting to scientists.
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The research was conducted by a team of astronomers led by Iskra Georgieva of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. It was accepted for publication in Astronomy and astrophysics.
The team zeroed in on TOI-733b after data was collected on the planet by NASA’s TESS telescope.
A planet’s density indicates two things – either it’s completely covered in water, or it’s completely lost its atmosphere.
Evidence points to the idea that TOI-733b’s atmosphere is slowly depleting. This is due to the planet’s proximity to its star, which it orbits in only 4.9 days. If the atmosphere is burned away, that means it could soon turn into a rocky planet.
Another possibility is that the planet has lost hydrogen and helium, while retaining an atmosphere full of water vapor.
“The answer to the question whether TOI-733b has a secondary atmosphere or is an oceanic planet boils down to distinguishing between a Neptune-like planet that has lost ∼10 percent of its H/He to leave behind a vaporous atmosphere of heavier volatiles, and one that formed and remained intact.” relatively throughout its development.
“While it is beyond the scope of this paper, finding an answer to this question will have broad implications for our understanding of exoplanets.”
The team continued to write: “By all accounts, TOI-733 b appears to be an interesting planet and has the potential to be a small but essential part of solving the larger mysteries of exoplanet science.
“With ever-increasing in-depth theoretical analyzes and the promise of high-resolution follow-ups by current and upcoming facilities, we appear to be on the right track to finding answers to key questions related to planet formation and evolution.”
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