An international team of astronomers has detected a new hot exoplanet of the “mini-Neptune” type, orbiting a red dwarf star. According to the data obtained, the newly discovered exoplanet, designated TOI-1201b, is about six times more massive than Earth. In addition, based on some detected signals, scientists believe that there may be another planet orbiting the primary star, a “companion” that would have a dimension of about 27 Earth masses.
The red dwarfs They are small and relatively cool stars, also known as M-dwarf stars. They usually have mass and diameter values less than half those of the Sun: a star of this type is the one that orbits the newly discovered exoplanet. TOI-1201b was identified thanks to the survey currently being carried out by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Study Satellite (TESS).
The TESS satellite is analyzing about 200,000 bright stars near the Sun, trying to discover transiting exoplanets. It has already managed to identify more than 4,500 possible exoplanets, confirming 155 of them. Now, a new study published recently in arXiv adds a new “candidate”, which could also be accompanied by another hidden exoplanet.
A small Neptune outside the Solar System
According to a Press release, TOI-1201b it was classified as a “mini-Neptune.” They are planetary bodies smaller than Uranus and Neptune, reaching up to about 10 times the mass of Earth. These planets have thick atmospheres of hydrogen and helium, with surfaces dominated by deep layers of ice, rock, or liquid oceans.
The oceans of the «Mini-Neptune» They can be made of water, ammonia, or even heavier and more volatile elements. Also called gas dwarfs or transitional planets, these stars have small nuclei with low-density components. So far, studies on these extrasolar worlds are based on knowledge about Uranus and Neptune: there is still a long way to go to delve into their conditions.
According to the new research, the exoplanet TOI-1201b it is approximately 2.41 times larger than our planet and is part of a binary system, orbiting its main star. TOI-1201b orbits its parent star every 2.49 days, at a distance of approximately 0.0287 Astronomical Units (AU).
Furthermore, the scientists were able to determine that the equilibrium temperature of this object is approximately 429.85 degrees Celsius. Taking into account all these characteristics, the astronomers classified the new exoplanet as a “Mini-Neptune” warm.
A possible partner
At the same time, they studied the primary star of the TOI-1201 binary system that orbits the exoplanet. It is located about 122.5 light years away, and would have an estimated age of between 600 and 800 million years. According to the studies carried out, the rho dwarf is about half the size and mass of the Sun.
Finally, the discovery of TOI-1201b brought a surprise: in addition to identifying the secondary star of the binary system, somewhat smaller than the main one, the detected signals suggest that it exists. another planet orbiting the primordial star: it would be a huge star with dimensions close to 27 land masses. However, further measurements are required to confirm the presence of this hidden ‘companion’.
TOI-1201 b: A mini-Neptune transiting a bright and moderately young M dwarf. D. Kossakowski et al. arXiv (2021).
Cover photo: a new alien world similar to Neptune was discovered by an international group of astronomers: it orbits a red dwarf star and could be accompanied by another exoplanet of enormous dimensions. Credit: CharlVera on Pixabay.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.