An artist's impression of an Exoplanet.

Exoplanets: New Super-Earth and Sub-Neptune types Found Will Fascinate You

An artist’s impression of an Exoplanet.
Credits – NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter. Source.

The discovery of Exoplanets

Astronomers discovered and characterized a super-Earth and a sub-Neptune transiting the M3V dwarf TOI-1266 which is a red dwarf and which is at a distance of 37 parsecs. They studied the exoplanets by using the TESS photometry and data from the newly-commissioned 1-m SAINT-EX telescope located in San Pedro Mártir (México).

They also took additional ground-based follow-up photometry, high-resolution spectroscopy, and high-angular imaging observations. They found the exoplanets revolved once around their star in 10.9 and 18.8 days respectively.

They determined the masses, eccentricities of orbits, and the equilibrium temperature of the exoplanets. The equilibrium temperatures of both planets were determined to be 413 ± 20 and 344 ± 16 K, respectively. Red dwarfs are the coolest kinds of stars.

When searching for exoplanets, the nearer the exoplanet is to the star, the easier it is to detect them. But the red dwarfs are relatively small and emit little light when compared to other stars. So, these exoplanets are difficult to find.

The Telescope for hunting Exoplanets

From the Mexican SAINT-EX (Search And characterIsatioN of Transiting Exoplanets) telescope it is possible to study red dwarfs and their exoplanets. This telescope was able to detect two exoplanets orbiting the red dwarf TOI-1266, located around 120 light-years from Earth.

The research was published recently in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. In size, the planets clearly differ from each other. The inner planet known as TOI-1266 b is little less than 2.5 times the Earth’s diameter.

The Sub-Neptune and Super-Earth Exoplanets

So, it is classified as “sub-Neptune.” The outer planet, TOI-1266 c, is little more than 1.5 times Earth’s diameter. So, it is classified as “super-Earth”. The host brightness and negligible activity combined with the planetary system architecture and favorable planet-to-star radii ratios make TOI-1266 an exquisite system for detailed characterization.


B. O. Demory et al, A super-Earth and a sub-Neptune orbiting the bright, quiet M3 dwarf TOI-1266, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2020). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202038616

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