Astronomers have found a new, nearby planet that is possibly entirely covered in water.

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Astronomers have discovered a nearby exoplanet that may be the world’s first to be covered in water.

TOI-1452 b is an exoplanet slightly larger and more massive than Earth, located about 100 light-years away from our planet in the constellation Draco. In a newspaper published Wednesday in The Astronomical MagazineUniversity of Montreal researchers note that the planet’s mass suggests it’s largely made up of something less dense than rock, but denser than gas — a potential sign of a global ocean.

“TOI-1452 b is one of the best ocean planet candidates we’ve found to date,” University of Montreal doctoral student in astrophysics Charles Cadieux said in a statement. “Its radius and mass suggest a much lower density than what you would expect from a planet essentially composed of metal and rock, such as Earth.”

TOI-1452 b first came to the attention of astronomers through NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or Tess spacecraft, which studies distant stars for telltale dips in their light that indicate an exoplanet passing in front of the star, which is a transit. Tess data suggested the existence of an exoplanet, but the sighting was not definitive.

The star TOI-1452 b orbits and is part of a binary star system, and Tess does not have the power to resolve the individual stars in that system. However, the university’s Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM) observatory, along with new analytical methods, was able to confirm that TOI-1452 b exists.

“The OMM played a critical role in confirming the nature of this signal and estimating the planet’s radius,” said Mr Cadieux. “This was not a routine check. We had to make sure that the signal detected by TESS was really caused by an exoplanet orbiting TOI-1452, the larger of the two stars in that binary system.”

An instrument installed at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii then measured the planet’s mass.

Unlike Earth, a predominantly rocky and metallic planet with water covering about 70% of its surface, TOI-1452 b appears to be mostly, but not entirely, water, with about 30% of its mass coming from liquid . That’s a kind of deep global ocean that’s more like the deep waters believed to lurk beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s moon Enceladus than Earth’s oceans; water makes up less than 1% of the mass of our planet.

Exoplanets are outside our solar system.

It’s still not certain whether TOI-1452 b is an ocean world, and what exactly that might mean for the chances of discovering extraterrestrial life in its waters, but the researchers note that the James Webb Space Telescope should soon be able to to fathom the mystery of this strange new watery world.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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