NASA discovers a new ‘Super-Earth’ exoplanet TOI-715 b in the habitable zone

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has recently discovered a new ‘Super-Earth’ exoplanet, TOI-715 b, in the habitable zone around its parent star, TOI-715. This discovery was announced on January 31, 2024.

Illustration of a 'Super-Earth' exoplanet TOI-715 b in the habitable zone around the star TOI-715
Illustration of a ‘Super-Earth’ exoplanet TOI-715 b in the habitable zone around the star TOI-715. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The planet that orbits another star outside our solar system is called an exoplanet. The planet TOI-715 b is located about 137 light-years away from the earth.

Till January 2024, only one planet was discovered in the TOI-715 planetary system. That’s why the exoplanet is named as TOI-715 b.

Please remember that in the same planetary system, exoplanet names are given ‘host star name’ b, ‘host star name’ c, ‘host star name’ d, etc. according to their discovery dates.

The exoplanet TOI-715 b is located 0.083 AU away from its host star. It gives the planet an equilibrium temperature of 234 K to host liquid water on its surface.

Habitable zone around a star
Illustration of a habitable zone around a star. (Image credit: NASA)

A habitable zone around a star is the right distance where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable to host liquid water on its surface. Every star has a habitable zone. However, the distance of this habitable zone is different for different stars depending on their size and brightness.

The parent star, TOI-715, is a red dwarf. Red dwarfs are the most common type of star in our galaxy, which is much redder, smaller and cooler than our sun.

The mass of the star TOI-715 is only 0.225 times of solar mass, its radius is only 0.240 times of solar radius, and its surface temperature is only 3075 K. These criteria create a habitable zone that is much closer than our sun.

The average distance between the sun and our planet is 1 AU (about 150 million kilometers), while the average distance between the star TOI-715 and the planet TOI-715 b is 0.083 AU (about 12.4 million kilometers).

As a result, the planet TOI-715 b orbits its host star once every 19.3 days, so one year is equal to 19.3 days on the exoplanet TOI-715 b.

However, the planet TOI-715 b is a ‘Super-Earth’ type exoplanet whose mass is 3.02 times of Earth’s mass and radius is 1.55 times of Earth’s radius.

A ‘Super-Earth’ is a type of exoplanet that is more massive than our Earth but less massive than Neptune. There is no analogue of a ‘Super-Earth’ type planet in our solar system.

A scientific paper has been published recently on the above discovery in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

For details about the TOI-715 planetary system visit at NASA exoplanet archive.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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