Baja California Observatory, in international collaboration, discovers an exoplanet twice the size of Earth

Researchers of the Institute of Astronomy (IA) of the ONE participated in an international collaboration that detected an exoplanet (planet outside the solar system) with the robotic telescope SAINT-EX, which operates from National Astronomical Observatory of San Pedro Mártir (OAN-SPM), in Lower California. This is the third planet detected with this equipment that works from one of the most favorable areas of the world for astronomical observation.

Is named YOU 2257 b and it is around an M star, which are among the coldest and smallest in the galaxy, said the IA researcher and coordinator of the robotic telescope, Yilen Gómez Maqueo Chew.

“It was first identified with data from the TESS satellite, which is scanning the entire sky for exoplanets, but its existence was confirmed with ground-based telescopes like SAINT-EX, to make sure it is a planet and not something else.” , he claimed.

Together with Gómez Maqueo Chew, university researcher Laurence Sabin (from the IA headquarters in Ensenada) and postdoctoral academics Marco Gómez Muñoz (in Ensenada) and Emiliano Jofré (in Ciudad Universitaria) cooperated in the discovery on behalf of UNAM. The results of the research were published on January 7 in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Also researchers from the universities of Bern, Geneva and the Planets working group; three from Switzerland; the University of Liège, Belgium, and that of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The article has 19 collaborators from various parts of the world, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, in the United States; the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, Spain; and the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina, among others.

The scientists produced a detailed analysis of data from Earth satellites and TESS confirming the discovery. “The planet we found is named after the star TOI 2257 and the b means that it is an exoplanet that is orbiting around it,” he explained.

The celestial body found is relatively large compared to the Earth, since it is 2.2 times the radius of the Earth, and it goes around its star every 35 days, which is little in terms of the solar system, but with respect to exoplanets that are known around M stars, is one of those that takes the longest to go around suborbiting the star, the astronomer reported.

The SAINT-EX telescope detected light curves of the celestial object, that is, the light that is received from the star and how its brightness changes as a function of time. As if it were an eclipse, the exoplanet passing through its star darkens it, makes it less bright and leaves only light curves, which the teams capture and the astronomers interpret.

While in the solar system there are giant planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus, which have between four and 11 times the radius of Earth, this newly discovered exoplanet is 2.2 times the radius of it, which places it in a phase intermediate.

“It is expected to be a more gaseous planet than a terrestrial one; and has an eccentric orbit, which it is oval and the exoplanet is sometimes very close and sometimes very far from its star”, he explained.

In general, this exoplanet provides scientists with information on how long it takes to go around, its size and what its star is like.

“It helps us understand the context of planetary systems. Before the first ones were discovered, in the 1990s, the only planetary system we knew about was the solar system. Everything we knew was also based on the formation of stars. Once the exoplanets are found, we realize that they are very different from what we knew, and that helps us to better understand the process of how planetary systems are formed and how they evolve”, he pointed out.

So far, scientists around the world have discovered more than 4,893 exoplanets, which give a clear idea of ​​what other planetary systems in the Universe are like.

In the next mission of the James Webb Space Telescope, it is expected to know the atmosphere of the exoplanet, which would provide greater knowledge about this finding.

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