Scientists have discovered a rocky “super-terrestrial” planet in an ancient star system that may have formed 10 billion years ago, only a few billion years after the Milky Way.
why does it matter: It is possible that a newly discovered planet does not support life, but in general, researchers believe that ancient planetary systems have better odds of harboring life because they are so long-lived.
- “Oh my God, if we only existed 5 billion years ago, imagine what would happen in a rocky world that existed 10 billion years ago,” said Lauren Weiss of the University of Hawaii. I would definitely like to know that. Monday’s press conference at the Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
What they found: The planet – called TOI-561b – orbits its star in less than half a day on Earth and is about 50% larger than our planet.
- Weiss said the world is likely hosting an ocean of magma on the side of the planet facing its star.
- Weiss also said that there are two other planets orbiting the star, and they are believed to be gaseous and farther away than the rocky world.
- Researchers used NASA’s TESS mission and the Keck Observatory to find and confirm the super-Earth, and a a study Detail Discovery was accepted for The Astronomical Journal.