Blog about planets.

Artist's concept of the exoplanet TOI-715b with its star in the background (Image NASA / JPL-Caltech)

An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” reports the identification of the exoplanet TOI-715 b in an orbit around its star in a position that meets the most conservative definition of a habitable zone. A team of researchers used observations conducted with NASA’s TESS space telescope confirmed by other instruments to identify what appears to be a super-Earth with a radius about 1.5 times the Earth’s. A second exoplanet candidate was discovered that would have a size very similar to the Earth’s a little further away from its star but follow-up observations are needed to verify that it’s not a false positive.

Photo of the area where a river delta entered the lake that existed in Jezero Crater (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

An article published in the journal “Science Advances” reports new evidence that Jezero Crater on Mars was a lake when the red planet was young and much more Earth-like. A team of researchers coordinated by UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) and the University of Oslo used data collected by the RIMFAX radar (Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment) mounted on NASA’s Mars Rover Perseverance, exploiting its ability to carry out detections underground to a depth of 20 meters.

Data collected between May 20 and December 8, 2022, in a contact area between the crater floor and the delta of an ancient river, made it possible to map that area and reconstruct the sequence of erosions and sediment deposits. Conditions were favorable for the development of life forms and there may still be traces of them in the samples collected by Perseverance.

Illustration of the HD 63433 star system

An article published in “The Astronomical Journal” reports confirmation of the existence of the exoplanet HD 63433d, a rocky planet with a size close to the Earth’s that orbits a star very similar to the Sun in a system that was already known. A team of researchers led by Melinda Soares-Furtado of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benjamin Capistrant, now a student at the University of Florida, used data collected by NASA’s TESS space telescope to identify HD 63433d within the THYME (TESS Hunt for Young and Maturing Exoplanets) survey. Its close proximity to its star probably makes it a so-called lava planet since on the dayside, the temperature on its surface is estimated at over 1,500° Kelvin.

Artist's concept of potentially habitable exoplanets (Image courtesy Christine Daniloff, MIT; iStock)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” reports a study that examines the possibility of using the measurement of carbon scarcity in the atmosphere of a temperate rocky planet as an indicator of the presence of oceans of liquid water and possible life forms. A team of researchers led by Julien de Wit of MIT and Amaury Triaud of the British University of Birmingham devised a strategy based on the James Webb Space Telescope’s detection capabilities and includes an additional step consisting of the detection of ozone.

Artist's concept of the Kepler-385 star system (Image NASA/Daniel Rutter)

An article to be published in “The Journal of Planetary Science” reports updates to the catalog of exoplanet candidates discovered with NASA’s Kepler space telescope which offers confirmation of the presence of seven planets in the Kepler-385 star system. This result was obtained by applying examination methods that were significantly improved compared to the past, obtaining new results from old observations. That includes this system among the very few with over six verified or at least candidate planets, making it particularly interesting. However, all of these planets are closer to their star than the inner edge of that system’s habitable zone and receive a significant amount of energy from it. The consequence is that none of them can be similar to Earth.