JAN 12, 2020 7:22 AM PST

TESS Finds its First Earth-Sized World in a Star's Habitable Region

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Astronomers are continuously searching for exoplanets in the deepest reaches of our galaxy, and while the Kepler Space Telescope might be a thing of the past these days, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has proven to be quite the capable replacement.

Just this past week, NASA reported that TESS had discovered its very first Earth-sized world residing in another star’s habitable region, and it was later confirmed to exist with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. In a nutshell, this means that a distant world named TOI 700 d potentially sports life-friendly temperatures and may even be capable of supporting liquid water on its surface as the Earth does.

The exoplanet’s host star, a red dwarf about 40% the mass of our Sun dubbed TOI 700, resides approximately 100 light-years away in the constellation Dorado. Using the transit method of detecting dips in starlight, TESS detected at least three exoplanets orbiting the star, including TOI 700 b, TOI 700 c, and the elephant in the room, TOI 700 d. The first two aren’t habitable by any stretch, but TOI 700 d could be different.

TOI 700 d is estimated to be only about 20% larger than Earth, and while it circles its host star closely enough to complete an orbit once every 37 days, astronomers also say that the world only receives about 86% of the solar energy that the Earth does from the Sun. On the flip side, all three exoplanets appear to be tidally locked to the host star, and it remains to be seen if this impacts habitability at all.

TOI 700 d is much too far to image directly or to even try to fully understand from a compositional sense, but now that we know it exists, we can only hope that technology will improve in the future to allow us to more accurately determine its habitability. Findings from this discovery could also help with future observations.

Related: Here's what TESS has accomplished thus far

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
APR 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Here's The Reason Why Space is Black
APR 07, 2020
Here's The Reason Why Space is Black
Anyone who can tilt their head up enough to glance at the night sky would be able to tell you that outer space looks bla ...
MAY 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
What Exactly Are Star Clusters?
MAY 10, 2020
What Exactly Are Star Clusters?
When you think of stellar systems, you might be inclined to think of a system like our own with just one star, or perhap ...
MAY 19, 2020
Space & Astronomy
The Science Behind Eclipses
MAY 19, 2020
The Science Behind Eclipses
A particularly convenient coincidence exists between the relative sizes of the Sun and the Moon, and their distance from ...
MAY 31, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Another SpaceX Starship Prototype Explodes During Testing
MAY 31, 2020
Another SpaceX Starship Prototype Explodes During Testing
Incomplete Starship prototypes are a common sight if you follow SpaceX’s plethora of rocket-centric projects, but ...
JUN 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astrophysicists Find Evidence of Nearby Planet that May Sustain Life
JUN 26, 2020
Astrophysicists Find Evidence of Nearby Planet that May Sustain Life
Researchers have found that a nearby red dwarf star, known as Gliese 887, may host three planets, one of which could sus ...
JUL 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
JUL 13, 2020
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
The moon may have hosted an ocean of magma for 200 million years according to new findings- considerably longer than pre ...
Loading Comments...