An Ocean World at Your Fingertips by James-Webb

An Ocean World at Your Fingertips by James-Webb

An Ocean World at Your Fingertips by James-Webb

VS ‘it is a timely discovery! An international team of researchers led by Quebecer Charles Cadieux, a doctoral student at the University of Montreal, and its research director, astrophysicist René Doyon, believe they have found an ocean world orbiting a red dwarf in a binary star system relatively close to the Sun.

Discovered in the constellation of the Dragon, two years ago, thanks to NASA’s Tess (Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite) space telescope, this exoplanet named TOI-1452b would in fact be only one hundred light years from us. . Enough to make this rocky body possibly covered in a thick layer of liquid water, so precious to life, a chosen target for the new James-Webb Space Telescope.

A very light super-Earth

Indeed, if the authors of the new study published in The Astronomical Journal in September they became convinced that it was a vast and deep ocean, not by direct observation but by deductions and models. First, by analyzing the data from Tess, who observed this planet as it passed in front of its star, they were able to find out its size: 70% larger than our planet. The super-terrestrial type! They therefore set out to measure the other determining parameter by which scientists can get an idea of ​​what exoplanets look like: their mass.

To do this, they used a new generation instrument called Spirou, for infrared spectropolarimeter, developed with French researchers from the University of Grenoble and mounted on the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope. A tandem that allowed them to use the other great technique to detect exoplanets. The method of radial velocities which assumes that a planet rotating around its star attracts it in a circular motion and then causes small regular variations in its radial velocity (its velocity in a direction parallel to the Earth-star axis). An influence that depends directly on its mass and which therefore allows you to go back up.

Our neighborhood ocean world

Result: TOI-1452b is nearly five times as massive as Earth. Which, compared to its size, gives it a much lower density than one would expect from a body composed mainly of metal and rock, such as the Earth. Our beautiful blue planet which, although over 70% covered by oceans, is only 1% water! For TOI-1452b it could be more than 30%! But his case is not uncommon: there are other planets with this type of parameters in the universe. Only they are further away. By observing TOI-1452b with James-Webb, which will give us a real idea of ​​its chemical composition, we will finally be able to know if the models are correct and if they are indeed ocean worlds.

READ ALSOThe secrets of exoplanets in James-Webb’s eyes

From there to the imagination of being able to host life, there is only one step that will still require the examination of other parameters, particularly the nature of their host star. In the case of TOI-1452b, this element is not entirely favorable since, as previously mentioned, it orbits a red dwarf of a binary system, a type of small, cold and famous star for abundantly watering their not-so-friendly radiation. environment…

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