Mysterious exoplanets are always fascinating, but humans are particularly interested in planets that may have liquid water in their star-liveable zones, according tomedia CNET. A new way to detect exoplanets could help scientists discover more of these interesting distant worlds. A planet called NGTS-11b was released with this new technology. A team led by Samuel Gill of the University of Warwick in the UK rediscovered the planet, starting with data from NASA’s Planetary Hunter TESS telescope.
This is a cosmic “detective story”. TESS has positioned the planet for the first time by seeing a slight drop in its star’s strucular brightness. But TESS only stares at a space for a limited time, usually 27 days. Scientists like to observe two subductions of brightness to confirm the existence of an exoplanet, but some planets take longer than 27 days to get around.
This is where Chile’s next-generation Astronomical Transit Survey (NGTS) telescope sits. NGTS tracked the star 620 light-years away, but observed it for 79 nights. The researchers were able to record two drops in brightness, effectively rediscovering NGTS-11b, which orbits the star every 35 days.
“These findings are rare, but important because they allow us to find planets with longer cycles than other astronomers have found. Long-cycle planets are cooler than planets in our own solar system,” Gillsaid said in a news release Tuesday from the University of Warwick.
Although NGTS-11b is cooler than Mercury and Venus, Gill says it is still too hot to support life as we know it. However, the work of NGTS may point the way for more planets to be found in the habitable zone.
Gill is looking at hundreds of single planets discovered by TESS that could be NGTS targets. “Some of these will be small rocky planets in habitable zones that are warm enough to hold liquid oceans and potential extraterrestrial life,” he said, adding that the search had made a good start.