Astronomers reveal extensive list of unusual exoplanets

by Khushi Srivastava

Despite the discovery of thousands of exoplanets, our knowledge about them is still quite limited. A NASA catalog featuring 126 newly identified, exotic worlds includes detailed measurements that enable comparisons with planets in our own solar system.

The collection describes a diverse range of extrasolar planet types, from uncommon worlds with harsh environments to those that might harbor life.

A sizable, multinational scientific team worked with the W.M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii, and NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to investigate the planets. In today’s edition of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement, they are described.

“A combination of these measurements tells us what the planets could be made of and how they formed,” stated Stephen Kane, principal investigator of the TESS-Keck Survey and astrophysicist at UC Riverside. “Relatively few of the previously known exoplanets have a measurement of both the mass and the radius.”

“With this information, we can begin to answer questions about where our solar system fits in to the grand tapestry of other planetary systems,” Kane stated.

The catalog took three years to develop for the research team. Over 13,000 radial velocity (RV) measurements were processed in order to determine the masses of 120 verified planets and six candidate planets that are dispersed across the northern sky.

Despite not being seen, the planets do have an effect that is. The planets pull on their host stars as they revolve, making them “wobble.” A star’s visible light shifts somewhat bluer when it moves toward a telescope and redder when it goes away from us.

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