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NASA’s TESS Mission discovers exoplanet in our galaxy older than Sun


National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered an exoplanet in the Milky Way galaxy. Researchers believe it is 10 billion years old, more than twice as old as our Sun. The planet named TOI-561b orbiting outside our solar system is 1.5 times the size of the Earth, has more mass than Earth, but almost the same density. The planet orbits around its sun, which is located in the galactic thick disk, very quickly and completes it in about 12 hours.

The discovery of the planet was made public in the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society and later accepted for publication in Astronomical Journal. The meeting was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study also mentions that the temperature on the planet’s surface reaches 1,726 degrees Celsius which makes it not suited for habitation.

As per a report by CNN, the rocky planet’s mass, radius and density were calculated with the help of data collected at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii. “TOI-561b is one of the oldest rocky planets yet discovered,” University of Hawaii postdoctoral fellow and team lead Lauren Weiss said in a statement. “Its existence shows that the universe has been forming rocky planets almost since its inception 14 billion years ago.”

What makes this ‘Super-Earth’ more intriguing is its density, considering the size in comparison to Earth. However, older planets are less dense owing to the less quantity of heavy metals found on them. These elements are found on our planet because it was formed after the Sun exploded in Supernova and distributed these elements into space.

Researchers are also interested in the history of the rocky planet as it could have been habitable at some point in its existence. “Though this particular planet is unlikely to be inhabited today, it may be a harbinger of many rocky worlds yet to be discovered around our galaxy’s oldest stars,” said Stephen Lane, the lead author of the study at the University of California, Riverside.



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