NASA’s TESS mission just discovered its first circumbinary planet—a world orbiting two stars instead of one. Named TOI 1338 b, it’s nearly the size of Saturn and orbits its stars every 95 days.
The two stars orbit each other and consist of a small, cool M dwarf and one much like the Sun. Together, they form what is called an eclipsing binary, which means the stars regularly pass in front of each other from our point of view.
TESS – Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite hunts for planets in these and other systems by looking for tiny, regular dips in starlight called transits. TESS saw TOI 1338 b’s transits of the large star, but spotting them in the data wasn’t easy. A high school intern examined hundreds of eclipsing binaries to search for planetary transits, which can look similar to some of the eclipses.
Ultimately, he uncovered transits caused by the planet. If you could orbit TOI 1338 b, you’d have a front-row seat to see its suns eclipse each other every 15 days. But the angle of the planet’s orbit around the stars changes over time. After 2023, we won’t see it pass in front of the stars for another 8 years.
TOI 1338 B Information
TOI 1338 b, since it’s now called, is TESS’s first circumbinary world, a planet orbiting two stars. The discovery had been included at a panel discussion on Monday, Jan. 6, in the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu. A newspaper, that Cukier co-authored together with scientists in Goddard, San Diego State University, the University of Chicago and other associations, was submitted to a scientific journal.
The TOI 1338 system is located 1,300 light-years away from the constellation Pictor. One is about 10 percent more massive than our Sun, whereas another is cooler, dimmer and just one-third of the Sun’s mass.
It is around 6.9 times bigger than Earth, or involving the dimensions of Neptune and Saturn. The world orbits in almost the exact same plane as the celebrities, so it encounters regular leading eclipses.
TESS includes four cameras, which each require a full-frame picture of a patch of the sky every 30 minutes for 27 days. Researchers use the observations to create charts of the way the brightness of stars changes over time.
But planets orbiting two stars are more challenging to discover than those waving. TOI 1338 b’s transits are intermittent, involving every 93 and 95 days, and change in depth and length because of the orbital movement of its own stars.
“All these are the sorts of signs that algorithms actually struggle with,” said lead author Veselin Kostov, a researcher at the SETI Institute and Goddard. “The human eye is very good at finding patterns in data, particularly non-periodic patterns such as those we see in transits from these types of systems.”
This clarifies why Cukier needed to examine each possible transit. By way of instance, he originally believed TOI 1338 b’s transit was a consequence of the bigger star in the machine passing before the bigger one — both trigger similar drops in brightness. However, the time was wrong to get an eclipse.
After identifying TOI 1338 b, the study team employed a software bundle called Eleanor, called after Eleanor Arroway, the central character in Carl Sagan’s novel”Contact,” to affirm the transits were real rather than a consequence of instrumental artifacts.
“Throughout all its pictures, TESS is tracking millions of stars,” stated co-author Adina Feinstein, a graduate student in the University of Chicago. “That is why our staff generated Eleanor. It is an accessible approach to download, assess and picture transit information. We built it with planets in your mind, but others of this community use it to study stars, asteroids and even galaxies.”
TOI 1338 had been analyzed from the floor by radial velocity surveys, which quantify movement along our line of sight. Kostov’s team employed this info information to examine the system and affirm Earth. Its orbit is stable for at least another 10 million decades. The orbit angle to people, nevertheless, changes that the entire world transit will stop following November 2023 and restart eight decades after.
NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions formerly detected 12 circumbinary planets in 10 systems, similar to TOI 1338 b. Observations of binary systems are biased toward discovering bigger planets, Kostov stated. Transits of smaller bodies do not have as large an influence on the stars’ brightness. TESS is anticipated to observe thousands and thousands of eclipsing binaries through its first two-year assignment, therefore many more of those circumbinary planets ought to be awaiting discovery.
TOI 1338 B Planet Composition
The TOI 1338 B Planet was discovered in the orbit of two stars, orbiting them. It is made up of the two distinct materials, however, these materials were found to be extremely similar in composition.
We know that our solar system and other heavenly bodies in the universe are made up of mostly hydrogen and helium. It’s in this light that the TOI 1338 B Planet comes into focus. It is so special because it seems to be composed of both.
However, we have now discovered that this new world is completely different from the other solar systems in our solar system. To put it simply, it is the most unique, new star ever discovered.
The way in which this star is made up is very much different to the other solar systems in our galaxy. As previously mentioned, it is made up of two separate and distinct materials, this star is made up of silicon and oxygen. For us earthlings to understand how this star can possibly support life as we know it, let us first look at the two different ingredients in comparison.
Oxygen is a lighter element that is found in our sun and stars, as well as our atmosphere, silicon is the heavy element that makes up all the material found in our earth and stars. The two are totally different elements, but yet somehow they are extremely similar in nature.
Both silicon and oxygen together make up our earth and stars’ atmosphere. Our atmosphere consists of both of these elements, with oxygen being the heavier of the two.
However, oxygen is different from the carbon dioxide that our own bodies produce. The two are very different in composition, but somehow the TOI 1338 B Planet seems to possess both of these components.
sun We already know that our sun is made up of silicon and oxygen. However, even though these two are found in similar concentrations on our own earth, we still find some of the oxygen is missing in our own atmosphere.
This is in spite of it being chemically identical to the oxygen we use in our plants and animals. It’s only when we come across carbon dioxide that we realize that all this is missing.
This is because oxygen and carbon dioxide are two completely different organic compounds. They do not belong to the same group, and in fact, we often find that organic compounds actually contain more carbon than oxygen.
Oxygen is in the same group, but it’s the heavier one. In short, oxygen and carbon dioxide are two completely different compounds, yet somehow they are identical to each other.
TESS will observe hundreds of thousands of eclipsing binaries, so there may be other planets similar to TOI 1338 b waiting to be discovered.
Also read: HD 189733b a Giant Blue Alien Planet