Potentially habitable exoplanet discovered by NASA’s TESS |

Gliese 12b, a newly discovered exoplanet, has captured the attention of astronomers and space enthusiasts alike. This super Earth exoplanet orbit a star type M and was announced in 2024 as part of the findings of POT‘s Transiting exoplanet study satellite (TESSA). Its mass is approximately 3.87 times that of Earth and it completes an orbit around its star every 12.8 days, at a distance of 0.0668 AU.
The planet’s discovery is an important addition to the catalog of known exoplanets, particularly because of its size and the type of star it orbits. Gliese 12b is similar in size to Earth and Venus, making it an intriguing subject for future studies. The host star, Gliese 12, is a cool red dwarf located nearly 40 light years away in the constellation Pisces. It is only about 27% the size of the Sun and about 60% the surface temperature of the Sun.
The potential habitability of Gliese 12b is a topic of considerable interest. The planet’s surface temperature, assuming no atmosphere, is projected to be about 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). This puts it in a temperature range that could support liquid water, as long as it has a suitable atmosphere. The distance between Gliese 12 and Gliese 12b is only 7% of the distance between Earth and the Sun, meaning the planet receives about 1.6 times more energy from its star than Earth does from the Sun.
TESS’s method for detecting exoplanets like Gliese 12b involves observing the brightness changes of stars caused by orbiting planets passing in front of them. This method has proven to be very effective in identifying planets that are difficult to detect by other means. Precise measurements from these transits provide critical data that can reveal the size of the planet and its orbit, which are essential for assessing the planet’s potential habitability.
The discovery of Gliese 12b is not only a demonstration of the capabilities of TESS but also of the collaborative efforts of the scientific community. With follow-up observations planned using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers hope to determine the composition and thickness of Gliese 12b’s atmosphere. This will provide deeper insights into the planet’s environment and its potential to support life.
As we continue to discover exoplanets like Gliese 12b, our understanding of the universe and the variety of planetary systems it contains expands. Each discovery brings us closer to answering the age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe. Gliese 12b, with its Earth-like size and proximity to its star, offers a promising avenue for future research and the possibility of finding signs of life beyond our solar system.

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