Despite the possible presence of water vapor, TOI-1231 b is likely not habitable because of its size


It’s considered one of the coldest và smallest exoplanets discovered so far. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Last week, an international group of scientists announced the discovery of a Neptune-like exoplanet 90 light-years away from Earth that might have water clouds. This discovery marks an exciting step in a new era exoplanet research, reports Sophie Lewis for CBS News.Bạn sẽ xem: Exoplanet discovery là gì

The exoplanet, located outside of Earth’s solar system, is called TOI-1231 b. Both Neptune and TOI-1231 b hold a resemblance with one another with their gaseous states and rich atmospheres. This exoplanet orbits a red-dwarf star, NLTT 24399, every 24 Earth days. This red-dwarf star is smaller, dimmer và less dense than Earth’s sun, but it’s much older.

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The exoplanet’s mass is 15.4 times larger than Earth. Despite closely orbiting its star, TOI-1231 b is colder than other exoplanets at an average 134 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s considered one of the coldest và smallest exoplanets discovered so far. TOI-1231 b is likely not habitable because of its size.

"Even though TOI-1231 b is eight times closer khổng lồ its star than the Earth is to the Sun, its temperature is similar khổng lồ that of Earth, thanks to lớn its cooler and less bright host star," says study co-author Diana Dragomir, an exoplanetologist at the University of New Mexico, in a statement. "However, the planet itself is actually larger than Earth and a little bit smaller than Neptune—we could call it a sub-Neptune."

Cold planets occasionally have clouds high in their atmospheres. By comparing TOI-1231 with other exoplanets similar in kích cỡ and temperature, scientists can infer whether water clouds are present or not.

"TOI-1231 b is one of the only other planets we know of in a similar form size and temperature range, so future observations of this new planet will let us determine just how common (or rare) it is for water clouds to size around these temperate worlds," says the study’s lead tác giả Jennifer Burt, a NASA JPL scientist, in a statement.

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Scientists conducted further research using the Planet Finder Spectrograph (PFS) with the Magellan Clay telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. PFS searches for exoplanets based on gravitational interaction with host stars khổng lồ learn more about their mass & orbit. This measurement is obtained by identifying variations in stellar velocity.

Later this month, the Hubble Space Telescope is set khổng lồ get a closer look at TOI-1231 b. Hubble will study hydrogen escaping from the exoplanet"s atmosphere. These atoms are hard lớn spot because they are usually blocked by our own planet’s atmosphere or interstellar gas. If the James Webb Telescope launch this fall is not delayed, it will also further investigate exoplanets and the composition of their atmospheres.

With the Hubble & Webb telescopes, Scientists will be able to lớn use transmission spectroscopy to lớn capture starlight emitted from TOI-1231 b through its atmosphere. When the molecules in the atmosphere absorb the light, they show up as dark lines that can be read as a “bar-code” & inform scientists about gases in the atmosphere.

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Further information about their findings will also be published in an upcoming issue of The Astronomical Journal.