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TESS on track to revolutionise exoplanet astronomy

8 Jan 2019, 15:30 UTC
TESS on track to revolutionise exoplanet astronomy
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NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite – TESS – seen here during final preparations for launch last April. In its first three months of observations, TESS has chalked up three confirmed exoplanet discoveries and 280 candidates. Image: NASA
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is on track to re-write exoplanet textbooks, astronomers say, discovering three confirmed worlds in its first three months of observations, nearly 300 exoplanet candidates and 100 transient events, including six supernovae detected before they were seen by ground-based telescopes.
“The data floodgates are just beginning to open,” said George Ricker, the principal investigator. “When the full set of observations of more than 300 million stars and galaxies collected in the two-year prime mission are scrutinized by astronomers worldwide, TESS may well have discovered as many as 10,000 planets, in addition to hundreds of supernovae and other explosive stellar and extragalactic transients.”
The first confirmed exoplanet discovery, Pi Mensae c, is about twice the size of Earth, orbiting a Sun-like star 60 light years away that is visible to the unaided eye in the southern constellation Mensa
“This star was already known to host a planet, called Pi Mensae b, which is about 10 times the mass ...

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