Three Suns: NASA's Planet-hunter Telescope Spots Distant Exoplanet With 3 Stars

Science

Reports have revealed that the planet - LTT 1445Ab which is 22.5 light-years from Earth, was found by astronomers using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) which is the American Space Agency's exoplanet-hunting space telescope

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Updated On:
Artist's illustration of exoplanet with 3 suns (Photo: NASA JPL)

While we on Earth curse our Sun for our scorching summers, NASA has recently discovered a distant world with three suns, as per international new reports.

Reports have revealed that the planet - LTT 1445Ab which is 22.5 light-years from Earth, was found by astronomers using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) which is the American Space Agency's exoplanet-hunting space telescope.

Astronomer explains the discovery

Explaining the visual depictions of this exoplanet, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Jennifer Winters has said that while one sun is visible from the surface, two more suns are visible far away from the planet.

"If you’re standing on the surface of that planet, there are three suns in the sky, but two of them are pretty far away and small-looking. They’re like two red, ominous eyes in the sky," said Winters, in an interview with a leading science news website. Her team's research has been submitted to The Astronomical Journal for peer-review.

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Exoplanet's specifications

Talking about the specifications of the exoplanet, scientists have claimed that the surface temperature of LTT 1445Ab is approximated to be 160 degrees Celsius with the planet orbiting its biggest sun once in every five days, as per reports.

Scientists have also revealed that the new exoplanet is 1.35 times the physical size of Earth weighing almost 8.4 times Earth's mass. Unfortunately, scientists have also ruled out the possibility of capturing a look at the atmospheric gases that surround the planet as the planet passes between those stars and Earth. All three stars are reportedly red dwarfs.

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Previous exoplanet discoveries and TESS' journey

Previously in 2016, NASA had discovered HD 131399Ab, another exoplanet with three suns with a 550-year orbit around one of the stars at a distance of 340 light-years away from our home planet.

Many scientists have claimed that the planet could be used to look at potential signs of life. The TESS which is currently on its initial 2-year sweep of the universe has been designed to find more such exoplanets and its possibility of containing life forms.

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