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2019-07-29. NASA’s TESS Satellite Spots ‘Missing Link’ Exoplanets.

posted Aug 5, 2019, 7:46 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Aug 5, 2019, 8:06 AM ]
By Dennis Overbye, New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/29/science/nasa-tess-exoplanets-astronomy.htmlSee also Newly discovered exoplanet trio could unravel the mysteries of super-Earth formation in Science Magazine [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/newly-discovered-exoplanet-trio-could-unravel-mysteries-super-earth-formation] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8. Excerpt: NASA’s new planet-hunting spacecraft, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is now halfway through its first tour of the nearby universe. It has been looking for worlds that might be fit for you, me or some other form of life, and as usual, nature has been generous in its rewards. Since its launch in April 2018, TESS has already discovered 21 new planets and 850 more potential worlds that have yet to be confirmed, all residing within a few dozen light years of the sun and our own solar system, according to George Ricker, an M.I.T. researcher who heads the TESS project. So far, he said, TESS “has far exceeded our most optimistic hopes.” ...Some of the discoveries generating the most excitement among the TESS crew were three new worlds that orbit a dim red dwarf star only 73 light-years from here in the southern constellation Pictor. The system goes by the name TOI-270, for Tess Object of Interest. ...The outer two planets are “sub-Neptunes,” each slightly more than twice the size of the Earth, and with masses at least five times greater, according to models. (Neptune is about four times bigger than Earth, and 17 times as massive.) The innermost exoplanet is a “Super Earth,” about 1.2 times the size of our home world....