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Exoplanet survey spacecraft discovers two new warm exoplanets

Finder charts for TOI 122 (top) and TOI 237 (bottom), including scanned red-sensitive photograph plates from the Digitized Sky Survey (left), 2MASS (middle), and the TESS full-frame images (right). Circles indicate stars from Gaia DR2, with areas logarithmically expressing apparent brightness. Crosshairs indicate targets’ position in the year 2019, near the time of the TESS imaging. Credit: Waalkes et al., 2020.

Using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers have detected two new warm alien worlds orbiting inactive M dwarfs. The newfound exoplanets, designated TOI 122b and TOI 237b, are about 2.7 and 1.4 times larger than the Earth, respectively, and warmer than our home planet. The finding is reported in a paper published October 29 on the arXiv pre-print server.

TESS is conducting a survey of about 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun with the aim of searching for transiting exoplanets. So far, it has identified nearly 2,200 candidate exoplanets, of which 67 have been confirmed so far.

Now, a team of astronomers led by William C. Waalkes of the University of Colorado Boulder reports the finding of another two confirmed planets. Between July and September 2018, TESS observed two stars, namely TOI 122b and TOI 237, and detected transit signals in the light curves of these objects. The planetary nature of these signals was confirmed by follow-up photometric and spectroscopic observations using ground-based facilities.

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