NASA identifies over 5,000 unexplored worlds outside the solar system

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[EN VIDÉO] Proxima b, the closest exoplanet to us!
To date, it is the only known planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, a star located in Alpha Centauri. This system is the closest to our solar system, “only” 4244 light-years away.

For thousands of years we thought that planets are only in our solar system unique. If the search for other worlds occurred to many thinkers and astronomersthe discovery of the first exoplanet was made only in October 1995 by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, which brought them honor Nobel Prize in Physics in 2019. Today NASA announces that allexoplanets discovered since 1995 has exceeded 5,000.

The discovery of all these worlds external to our system has motivated the entire scientific community and continues to fascinate public opinion in the hope of finding among them a potential other Earth, a planet that could become a haven for extraterrestrial life, or even other civilizations. But scientists are mainly interested in all these new worlds in order to better understand ours.

Many programs have been developed to discover more and more of them and get more information about them. Given their number, studying exoplanets can sometimes even be a matter of statistics. It helps us to learn more about the formation of systems, planets and favorable conditions for life.

Sometimes NASA comes up with a nice exoplanet tune! Each note is represented by an exoplanet discovered over the past two decades. Its corresponding circle determines its location, and the size of its orbit is indicated by a tone: the higher it is, the smaller the orbit. The color of the circle indicates which method was used to detect it. © NASA, JPL-Caltech

Fleet of specialized space telescopes

To do this, several space telescopes have been developed. The most famous is telescope American Kepler who independently discovered 2,662 exoplanets in less than ten years. Today it’s the telescope’s turn Tess (Transit satellite for exoplanet exploration), NASA, to detect the passage of exoplanets in front of them star. This is the transit method, that is, the study brightness stars when a planet passes in front of it. You can get a lot of information from him, including his size, his weighther period of revolutionits position relative to the star, and sometimes even some information about it atmosphere. This is the main method used.

To continue the study, it is planned to install several telescopes. Even the titanic James Webb Space Telescope will be used to capture light atmospheres to be able to give their chemical composition. NASA still has Nancy Roman Space Telescope which will be dedicated to him. It is scheduled to launch in 2027. On the European side, this Ariel space telescope which is planned to be sent in 2029 and is dedicated to the study of exoplanetary atmospheres.

Finally, the largest bank of potential exoplanets remains: the catalog mission Gaia. Nearly two billion stars have been sifted space telescope since 2013, an unmeasured number of potential planets in 80,000 billion terabytes of data. Space telescopes and professional observatories are not enough; it takes several observations to confirm the existence of an exoplanet and register it among 5,000 others. That’s where amateur astronomers opportunity to cooperate to this titanic work.

Big variety

What are all these exoplanets? First, 30% of them gas giants. The reason is primarily that they are easier to detect. But often a second star tries to form in the system, and the first one did not leave enough energy. to matter for this. We’re talking about “failed stars”.

There are also 35% of exoplanets of the genus Neptuneequivalent size, often frozen, even if some Hot Neptunes. Then 31% super-earthsplanets, which can range in size from Earth to Neptune, but are not necessarily planets solid. The other 4% is the size of the Earth, in other words…small, so it’s hard to detect.

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