Chris Boshuizen, Will Marshall and Robbie Schingler - all NASA scientists, founded Planet Labs in 2010. Their objective - to gather as much information as possible from space to improve life on earth. The company produces satellites released into the orbit to collect data and report back to the ground offices through the frame image sensor.
Their products are named Dove, RapidEye, and SkySat.
In January of 2021, Tansu Daylan, a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, and two teenagers, Kartik Pingle (16) and Jasmine Wright (18), discovered a planetary system, much like ours. This system is ideal for studying planetary evolution and exoplanetary atmospheres. This is some promising interstellar discover, given that we might find that earth’s core actually has water in it!
Another Earth-like Planetary System
According to the study, a planetary system has been discovered 200 light-years away around the star HD 108236. This system consists of a rocky ‘Super-Earth’ and three ‘sub-Neptunes’ that orbit around the star HD 108236.
What makes it ideal for studying planets’ evolution is that the rocky world’s size is very similar to the earth. Not only that but the host star HD 108236 is also identical to the Sun. This discovery was made when the students were a part of the SRMP. They used NASA’s Training Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space telescope specifically designed to search for planets outside our solar system.
What Are 'Super-Earths'?
Planets with a radius ranging from 0.8 to 2 times that of the earth are named ‘Super-Earth’. The world found through this study which is said to be Earth-like is also given this tag. It takes 3.8 days for this planet to orbit the Sun.
The little Neptunes or ‘Sub-Neptunes’, according to the researchers, are gaseous and smaller in size than Neptune. These ‘sub-Neptunes’ have a radius of 2.1, 2.7 and 3.1 times that of earth. These planets take 6.2 days, 14.2 days and 19.6 days to orbit the host Sun.
The Astronomical Journal released the study and said that “the identified planets span a broad range of planetary radii and balance temperatures, and share a general history of insolation from a Sun-like star, making HD108236 an exciting, opportune cosmic laboratory for testing models of planet formation and evolution.”
Maybe, this research can answer the question of whether we are made of stardust or not?
Quite Literally A Rare Feat In Planetary System
Not many exoplanets are found within the radius-valley of other observed exoplanets. The super-earth found, fits right in. Researchers think this is a result of photoevaporation. Photoevaporation is the process where radiation ionises the gas.
This ionisation causes it to disperse far away from the ionising source. Something similar must have happened with the Super Earth for it to fall into the radius-valley. This theory is backed by findings of similar occurrences with other planets in the system too.
Planetary System's Physical Details
The researchers have found that the star has a visual magnitude of 9.2. they also that since it is so close to us, it provides us with an excellent opportunity to study and understand these planets more accurately.
Unlike the planets in our solar system, these newly found planets are also very close to each other. Make us wonder can you see other planets from one world? Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
New Data - Giant Leaps Ahead
Scientists will study and collect as much data as possible from this new Lab by using the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope which is supposed to be launched on 31st October 2021.
Another team of scientists have already found a fifth planet in the system using the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS). This planet takes by far the longest time, 29 days, to orbit the Sun. Scientists also believe that more such planets in the system might not be visible right now but will soon be discovered.
We have been obsessed with the working of our solar system and everything that is beyond it. Through the years, many teams of scientists and astronauts have explored the many worlds beyond our world. Granted that if we change our current lifestyles and avoid the next mass extinction, we wont’t need to make shifts to another planet. If not, a backup planet will come in handy.