The search for extraterrestrial life on planets like Earth is now on the rise, especially after the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, and an international team of astronomers recently announced the discovery of an exoplanet, a potential "ocean planet", located only 100 light years away from the Earth.
Over the past decade, it has become increasingly evident that the typical extraterrestrial planetary system is very different from our solar system. Exoplanets tend to have a much smaller orbital configuration, and most systems have at least one planet intermediated between Earth and Neptune.
Some of these planets have a density that can only be explained if most of their mass consists of materials that are lighter than those that make up the earth's internal structure, such as water; these hypothetical worlds were called "oceanic planets" or "ocean planets".
By definition, an ocean planet is a superland that originally had an ice mantle, which would migrate to its host star, and when it enters the habitat zone, part of the ice melts, and it will form a huge, liquid ocean.
Recently, an international group of researchers led by Charles Kadier, a Ph.D., a student at the University of Montreal and a member of the Institute of Exoplanet Research, announced the opening of TOI-1452b, an exoplanet orbiting one of two small stars in a binary system located in the constellation of Dragon, about 100 light years from Earth.
The exoplanet is slightly larger and more massive than the Earth and is so far away from its star that its temperature is neither too high nor too low for liquid water to exist on its surface, which makes it a potential ocean planet, is considered by astronomers.
The host star of this exoplanet is much smaller than the Sun and is in the binary system. These two stars rotate around each other and are separated by so little distance.
However, it was this telescope that led researchers to this exoplanet. Based on the TESS signal, which showed a slight decrease in brightness every 11 days, astronomers assumed that the planet was about 70 per cent larger than the Earth. Subsequently, the PESTO camera on the Mon Megantic telescope was high enough to distinguish the two stars of the binary system, showing that the exoplanet revolves around TOI-1452, as confirmed by subsequent observations by the Japanese team.
Renee Doyon, a professor at the University of Montreal and director of iREx and the Mont Megantic Observatory, said in a press release: "I am extremely proud of this discovery because it demonstrates the high level of our researchers and our equipment. Thanks to the OMM, a special tool developed in our laboratories called SPIRou, and the innovative analytical method developed by our research team, we have been able to detect this unique exoplanet.
To determine the mass of the planet, researchers observed the system using a SPIRou device installed on the Canadian-France-Guawaya telescope. It was ideal to study small stars such as TOI-1452, because it worked in the infrared spectrum, where these stars were the most brightest, but it took more than 50 hours to estimate the mass of the planet, which was almost five times the mass of the Earth.
It should be remembered that, despite the many technologies available, the work of analysing the data provided by these technologies is no less important than working with telescopes. Rene Doyon ' s colleagues have developed a powerful method of analysis that can detect the planet in data collected through SPIRou. Etienne Artigo, co-author of the study, explains: "".
Potential ocean planet, James Webb's future target
The exoplanet TOI-1452 b is probably rocky like the Earth, but its radius, mass and density suggest that it is a whole different world. The earth is essentially a very dry planet, even though its surface is 70% water, because water is a negligible fraction of its mass, less than 1%.
While in the case of TOI-1452 b, Michael Plotnikov and Diana Valencia of the University of Toronto, the exoplanet and the co-authors of the study can make up up to 30% of its mass, this is a proportion similar to that of some natural satellites in our solar system, such as some of Jupiter and Saturn's satellites.
Exoplanet, such as TOI-1452b, is the main goal of James Webb's future efforts to characterize the atmosphere with high transmission spectroscopy as compared to other known moderate belt exoplanets. These future observations should reveal the true nature of this intrigued exoplanet, be it a rocky world or a variable shell. In addition to the ability of James Webb to observe almost every year, TOI-1452b is a unique system for studying the exoplanet at the border between superlands and mini-Neptunes.
Doyon concludes: "".