TechFour mini-Neptunes found orbiting red dwarfs by Japanese astronomers

Four mini-Neptunes found orbiting red dwarfs by Japanese astronomers

Universe, illustrative photo
Universe, illustrative photo
Images source: © Pixabay
Mateusz Tomczak

17 June 2024 19:33

Using ground-based telescopes and a space observatory, scientists have discovered four mini-Neptunes around four red dwarfs. All of them are very close to their parent stars.

Astronomers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan are credited with the discovery. As they explain, planets sized between Earth and Neptune are relatively common in the universe. These planets, absent in the Solar System, are called mini-Neptunes.

Four new mini-Neptunes

The Japanese team has just presented four such planets (TOI-782 b, TOI-1448 b, TOI-2120 b, and TOI-2406 b) orbiting red dwarf stars. They were detected using a global network of ground-based telescopes and the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) space telescope.

The discovered mini-Neptunes have diameters 2 to 3 times larger than Earth, and they orbit their stars in less than 8 days. At least three of the four planets have eccentric orbits, which is surprising because, with such short periods, one would expect circular orbits.

The discovered planets do not have rocky compositions

According to scientists, the three mentioned planets have maintained their unusual orbits for several billion years.

Measurements of star vibrations caused by the movement of planets conducted by the Subaru telescope indicated that the discovered mini-Neptunes have masses no more significant than twenty times the mass of Earth.

The measured masses and diameters indicate that the planets do not have rocky compositions – their interiors are most likely filled with volatile substances. They largely resemble Neptune.

Scientists emphasize that planets of this type orbiting close to stars are exciting targets for studying exoplanet atmospheres using the James Webb Telescope. Further research is also expected to allow a better understanding of the interiors of such objects.

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