Sea world within reach by James-Webb

Sea world within reach by James-Webb

VS’Timely discovery! An international team of researchers led by Quebecer Charles Cadieux, a doctoral student at the University of Montreal, and his research director, astrophysicist René Doyon, believe they have discovered an ocean world around a red dwarf in a binary star system. the sun

Discovered in the Dragon constellation, two years ago, thanks NASA’s DES (Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite) space telescopeThis exoplanet, called TOI-1452b, is actually only a hundred light-years away. As the target of choice for the new James-Webb Space Telescope, this rocky body is large enough to be covered with a thick layer of liquid water.

A very light super-Earth

In fact, if teachers A new study published in Journal of Astronomy In September, they convinced themselves that it was a vast and deep sea, not by direct observation, but by deductions and models. First, by analyzing data from TESS that observed this planet passing in front of its star, we were able to figure out its size: 70% larger than our planet. Super Earth type! Then they began measuring the other determining parameter that allows scientists to get an idea of ​​what exoplanets look like: their mass.

To do this, they used a new generation instrument for infrared spectroscopy called Spiro, developed with French researchers from the University of Grenoble and mounted on the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope. A combination that allowed them to use another great technique for detecting exoplanets. The method of radial velocities assumes that a planet pulls in a circular motion around its star, thereby inducing small regular variations in its radial velocity (its velocity in the direction parallel to the Earth-stellar axis). An influence is directly related to its mass, therefore making it possible to find it again.

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Our neighbor is the ocean world

Conclusion: TOI-1452b is almost five times larger than Earth. This gives it a much lower density than one would expect for a metallic and rocky body like Earth, relative to its size. Although our beautiful blue planet is covered by more than 70% oceans, only one percent is water! For TOI-1452b it may be 30% higher! But his case is not rare: there are other planets in the universe with this type of parameters. Except they are far away. Observing TOI-1452b with James-Webb will give us a real idea of ​​its chemical composition, and we can finally know if the models are correct and if these are indeed ocean worlds.

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From that to imagining that they could preserve life, there is only one step left, and that is still to explore other parameters, especially the nature of their host star. In the case of TOI-1452b, this element is not entirely favorable because, as mentioned earlier, it orbits the red dwarf of the binary system, A type of star known to be small, cool, and heavily showered with radiation No friendship…

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