Astronomers working with data from the TESS exoplanetary telescope have created a unique catalog of stars that will help detect potentially habitable planets in their orbits.
A team from Cornell University, Lihai University and Vanderbilt University have identified the most promising targets for finding stars in whose orbits inhabited planets can be. They added 1822 stars to their catalog, around which the sensitivity of TESS is enough to detect Earth-like exoplanets a little larger than our planet, which receive the same amount of radiation from their stars as the Earth does from the Sun. Catalog published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
1822 stars in the catalog are bright, cold dwarfs, whose temperatures range from about 2,700 to 5,000 Kelvin (2427 – 4727 degrees Celsius). They were selected for brightness. The nearest of these stars is about six light years from Earth.
“Life cannot exist in all possible worlds, but we know that our own world can support life, so the search for Earth-like planets definitely makes sense,” says Professor Less Kaltenegger, a member of the TESS scientific team. “This catalog is important for TESS, because everyone who works with data wants to know which stars we can find the closest analogues of the Earth. We have 408 new favorite stars. Surprisingly, you do not have to choose only one; I can now explore hundreds of stars. ”
Confirmation of the observation of an exoplanet and the calculation of the distance from it to the star require registration of two transits. This is what the TESS telescope can do during its mission. Such orbital periods mean that these planets are in the habitable zone of their stars.
The catalog also includes a subset of 227 stars, on whose orbits TESS can not only find planets that receive the same amount of radiation as the Earth, but also find out how wide their habitability zones are – up to cooler orbits.
This will allow astronomers to study the diversity of potentially inhabited worlds in the orbits of hundreds of cold stars during the mission of the TESS telescope.
“We don’t know how many planets TESS will find in the orbits of hundreds of stars from our catalog and whether they will be inhabited, but the chances are in our favor,” says Professor Kaltenegger. – Some studies indicate that there may be many rocky planets in the habitable zones of cold stars. We are very excited about what worlds we will find. ”
“This is an amazing time in human history and a huge leap for our understanding of our own place in the Universe,” said Dr. Kevan Stassun of Vanderbilt University, also a member of the TESS research team.