2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Astronomers have summed up the results of the TESS space telescope in the first six months of its mission. In total, the telescope has detected more than 280 exoplanet candidates, of which eight have been confirmed. In addition, he observed six Type Ia supernova explosions, according to a press release on the NASA website.
The TESS space telescope is positioned as a partial replacement for the Kepler telescope, which has almost completely exhausted its resource. It was launched into space in April 2018 and is designed to search for exoplanets using transit photometry - it tracks the change in the brightness of a star as a planet passes through its disk. The main targets of the telescope are bright stars and their systems, located at a distance of 30 to 300 light years from Earth. Exoplanet candidates will become targets for other observatories, both terrestrial and orbiting (for example, the James Webb Space Telescope), which will study objects in detail.
TESS is equipped with four telescopes with 16.8 megapixel arrays, each with a 24-by-24-degree field of view. Once every 27 days, the telescope changes its observation area and over the two years of the main mission, it will create a map covering 85 percent of the entire celestial sphere. In May, TESS sent its first image to Earth, but did not officially start work until the end of July. In early August, the telescope, using all of its four cameras, took the first scientific image, tracking a patch of sky in the southern hemisphere for 30 minutes, and soon discovered its first exoplanet, and then a second, third, and possibly fourth. In addition to the three proven facts of the discovery of exoplanets whose diameters are less than four Earth's diameters, and five more exoplanets whose diameters are larger, there are more than 280 candidates for them, which were discovered by TESS and have not yet been confirmed.
However, in addition to searching for exoplanets, the telescope was able to observe many different objects in the sky, such as comets, asteroids, flare stars, eclipsing binaries and white dwarfs, as well as register about a hundred sources of flares in the sky. Between July 25 and August 22, 2018, the telescope was able to observe six explosions of type Ia supernovae in distant galaxies, which were later detected by ground-based telescopes. The Kepler telescope was able to register a similar number of supernovae in only four years of operation. Such observations allow us to learn more about the mechanism of formation of this type of supernovae, which are "standard candles" - astronomical objects, the redshift of which measures the distance to them.
Earlier, we talked about where astronomers found the densest super-Earth, why all the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system were recognized as Earth-like, and how a red dwarf with a “monster” planet did not fit into the expectations of astronomers.