Ocean-covered planet found in nearby star system

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of an exoplanet in the constellation Draco.

The planet is called TOI-1452 b and orbits a small star in a nearby binary system, just 100 light-years from Earth. The planet is slightly larger and heavier than Earth. Astronomers believe that its surface is covered with water.

As reported in the pages of the Astrophysical Journal, the team estimates that the planet is 30 percent water. This is a lot compared to 1 percent of the Earth.

It orbits the dwarf star once every 11 days while in the habitable zone, where water is expected to exist in three known states. If this study is correct, this planet is likely covered by a thick layer of ocean.

“TOI-1452 b is one of the best ocean planet candidates we’ve found to date,” said University of Montreal study lead author Charles Kadier.

“Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than would be expected from a planet that is mostly made of metal and rock, like Earth.”

Initial observations were made with NASA’s TESS telescope. The observatory reported an object orbiting one of the stars in a binary system. Its size is about 70 percent larger than the Earth. Follow-up observations allowed the team to figure out what the planet might be like.

“The Mont Megantic Observatory in Quebec was instrumental in confirming the nature of this signal and estimating the radius of the planet,” Cadier explained.

“This was not an ordinary test. We had to verify that the signal detected by TESS was indeed caused by an exoplanet orbiting TOI-1452, the largest of the two stars in this binary system.”

The binary system consists of two red dwarf stars smaller than our Sun. They are separated by approximately 14.5 billion kilometers.

Given its relative proximity to us and interesting characteristics, this planet could be an ideal candidate for further observations using the James Webb telescope.


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