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Mini-Neptune’s atmosphere ripe for study

8 Jul 2021, 11:06 UTC
Mini-Neptune’s atmosphere ripe for study
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Artist’s concept of TOI-1231 b shows a mini-Neptune-sized world that has a deep atmosphere ideal for further study by space telescopes. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ UNM.
In June, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the University of New Mexico announced the discovery of a new exoplanet, a mini-Neptune, some 90 light-years from Earth. Called TOI-1231 b, it orbits a small red dwarf (or M dwarf) star every 24 days. This world is less massive than planet Neptune in our own solar system. But it resembles Neptune in that it appears to have a thick atmosphere. The researchers said they’re excited about this planet because it:
… offers exciting research opportunities thanks to the planet’s substantial atmosphere, small star, and how fast the system is moving away from the Earth.
The researchers submitted a preprint version of the new research paper to arXiv on May 17, 2021 (last revised on June 8).
Substantial atmosphere
NASA’s orbiting planet-hunter TESS first revealed this planet’s existence in 2019. Further confirmation came via the Planet Finder Spectrograph on the Magellan Clay telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.
How do they know this mini-Neptune’s atmosphere is deep? Lead author Jennifer Burt of NASA’s ...

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