New exoplanet detection program for citizen scientists

(ORDO NEWS) — The SETI Institute and its partner Unistellar are launching a new exoplanet discovery program that will involve citizen scientists around the world.

Amateur astronomers will be invited to help test the exoplanet candidates identified by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

The Unistellar Exoplanet Campaign provides professional mentorship and curation and can make a significant contribution to exoplanet research by engaging non-professionals and students in this exciting work.

One of the latest achievements of the new network was the discovery of a TESS candidate planet, named TOI 1812.01. TOI 1812 is a curious multi-planet system that was first discovered by TESS.

The system lies 563 light-years from Earth and consists of three gaseous planets: sub-Neptune, sub-Saturn, and an outer planet the size of Saturn (TOI 1812.01).

Sub-Neptune has a radius of 3 Earth radii and an 11-day orbital period, while Sub-Saturn has a radius of 5 Earth radii and a 43-day orbital period.

TOI 1812.01 is a planet with a radius of about 9 Earth radii, and its orbital period has not been established until recently.

Having three gaseous planets spanning such a wide range of radii makes TOI 1812 an ideal system for understanding how giant planets form.

However, the missing piece of the puzzle that prevents further characterization of the system was the unknown orbital period of TOI 1812.01.

After analyzing the data received from TESS, scientists were able to identify three most likely orbital periods: 71 days, 87 days, or 112 days.

They corresponded to three possible transit windows in July and August 2022. The network observed them, which in each case required transcontinental campaigns.

The scientists received 27 data sets provided by 20 astronomers from seven countries. They were able to confirm an orbital period of 112 days.

This work demonstrates the unique ability of the Citizen Science Network to contribute to the recovery of long-period exoplanet data such as TOI 1812.01.


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