TESS Exoplanet Search Strikes Gold Again!

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The TESS Exoplanet Hunting Mission Provides Astronomical Treasure Once More!

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) just started orbiting Earth recently, but already the TESS exoplanet discoveries have been astounding! In less than two years, the satellite masterpiece has detected thousands of exoplanets. And that includes a few that are even stranger than anything we’ve imagined. For example, there’s HD 189733 b, a world on which violent winds whip molten glass through the atmosphere. Or WASP-76, an exoplanet so metal it rains molten iron! TESS has found a plethora of Earth-like exoplanets, as well. And now, the TESS exoplanet search has found a planet that could help confirm a theory about the nature of the Milky Way!

LHS 1815 is one of those aforementioned Earth-like planets. As such, it might be easy to dismiss. If it weren’t for one feature—it appears to be a thick-disc planet. You see, many of the current theories about the Milky Way galaxy—our home, don’t you know—state that it’s built of a few different parts. There’s the thin disc, the thick disc, a halo, and a bulge. I’m not nearly well-versed enough in astrophysics to try and explain it, so here’s a video that will do a better job:

And here’s a diagram:

Milky Way Structure as supported by TESS exoplanet discovery.

Thus far, objects in the thick disc region have proven scarce when it comes to observation. Because of this, comparing and contrasting the formation systems between the two discs has been difficult. But now that TESS found LHS 1815b, things could really open up for astronomers working on the theory. While we have data on a few different thick-disc planets from previous studies, this is the first time the TESS exoplanet search has found one. As such, we’ll have more detailed data than ever before, and scientists can further their understanding of how our own galaxy formed, and how it works. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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