(The Herald Post) – Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and other institutions have announced the discovery of a new exoplanet, LHS 475 b, utilizing NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The Venus-sized planet orbits a nearby M-dwarf star and was first reported on April 4 on the arXiv pre-print repository.
TESS’s primary mission is to survey approximately 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun in search of transiting exoplanets. To date, it has identified nearly 6,400 candidate exoplanets, with 3,031 of them being confirmed. The latest discovery, LHS 475 b, adds to this growing list of extrasolar planets.
Led by CfA’s Kristo Ment, the team of astronomers detected a transit signal in the light curve of LHS 475, a main-sequence red dwarf star. Subsequent ground-based photometry using the MEarth-South telescope array at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile confirmed the planetary nature of the signal.
LHS 475 b has a radius of approximately 0.955 Earth radii and orbits its host star every 48.7 hours at a close distance of about 0.02 AU. With an estimated equilibrium temperature of 587 K, this new exoplanet is likely too hot to support life as we know it. Although the mass of LHS 475 b remains undetermined, the researchers expect the planet to be terrestrial, possibly having a similar interior composition to Earth.
The host star, LHS 475, has a radius of 0.286 solar radii, a mass of about 0.274 solar masses, and a luminosity of 0.0087 solar luminosities. It has an effective temperature of 3,295 K and is located approximately 40.7 light years away from our planet.