TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The astronomer is analyzing a planet mysterious extrasolar system labeled as HD-207496b. This planet is 138 light years from Earth and is thought to be in the process of transformation.
Compared to Earth, this planet has a mass and radius of 6.1 and 2.25 times greater. This exo planet is thought to have one of three possibilities: atmosphere gas, oceans, or a mixture of the two. Whatever it is, one thing is clear, this planet is expected to shrink into a super-Earth.
These planetary characteristics could therefore help astronomers solve the mysteries of planet detection outside the solar system. For example, the gap between the masses of rocky planets that are larger than Earth and gas planets that are smaller than that Neptune. Exoplanets are indeed enigmatic as to the characterization of their atmospheres.
Just so you know, there are all kinds of galaxies out there, with so many exoplanet very different. Astronomers have so far compiled about 5,300 worlds outside the solar system. The number could be even greater because there are still almost twice as many objects found by the same candidate.
However, from the large number of findings, it is rare to find an exoplanet that has a size of 1.5 to 2 times the mass of Earth with an orbit shorter than about 100 days. Scientists searched for it using the European Southern Observatory’s High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Finder (HARPS) 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile.
The search followed up by sorting out the candidates identified by TESS, NASA’s space planet-hunting telescope. This is what brought an international team led by astrophysicist Susana Barros from the University of Porto in Portugal to planet HD-207496b.
TESS searches for exoplanets by looking up at a patch of sky. Its sensitive instruments are tuned to very faint flickers in starlight that could be evidence of an orbiting exoplanet passing, or transiting, between us and the star.
If these transits occur regularly, astronomers can easily deduce the existence of an orbiting object and determine its period. If the brightness of a star is known, the depth of the transit drop — how much light the star is blocking — allows astronomers to calculate the radius of an orbiting object.
HARPS detects another metric. When an exoplanet orbits a star, it exerts its own gravitational pull. Meanwhile, an exoplanet that doesn’t orbit a star will, on the other hand, both objects orbit the same center of mass, known as the barycenter.
Because stars are so much more massive, they don’t move much, but just jiggle in place. This is what HARPS can measure. As the star wobbles toward and away from us, the wavelength of its light changes, condensing as the star approaches and stretching as it moves away.
How much the star moves depends on the mass of the exoplanet, so astronomers can also calculate that.
Once you know the mass and radius of an exoplanet, you can combine them to calculate its density. This is where it gets really interesting because density can be used to deduce what exoplanets are made of.
HARPS data reveals that HD-207496b has a mass about 6.1 times that of Earth. That means the exoplanet’s density is about 3.27 grams per cubic centimeter, which is again denser than Earth’s 5.51 grams per cubic centimeter, and implies that HD-207496b’s composition is not strictly rocky.
“We found that HD-207496b has a lower density than Earth, therefore we suspect that it has large amounts of water and/or gas in its composition,” Barros and his team wrote in a paper about the exoplanet at the site. arXiv.
From there came the compositional options of modeling the planet’s internal structure. “We concluded that the planet has a water-rich mantle, a gas-rich mantle, or a mixture of both.”
Evaporation modeling reveals that even if an exoplanet has a gas-rich atmosphere of hydrogen and helium, that state is temporary. The star will completely strip the exoplanet in 520 million years, aka the atmosphere will gradually disappear. Once the atmosphere is gone, HD-207496b becomes an open ocean world.
“In general,” the researchers write, “we predict that the planet will have water and an envelope of hydrogen or helium and fall somewhere between these two models.”
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