Two NASA missions were able to find a planet that’s the size of Neptune, which circles its young star every week (of ours). But is the planet habitable? No, it actually has to offer a lot of storms.
The planet, which is called AU Microscopii b, was discovered by gathering data from TESS – Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite – and from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Scientists want to learn more from AU Mic b with regards to how planets evolve, how their atmosphere forms, and how they can actually interact with their parent stars. This star is still young, and it is known for sending out highly irradiated flares to its neighborhood.
These dwarf stars are usually the ones preferred by astronomers when it comes to hunting for stars, due to the fact that their size makes it very easy to spot planets that are passing across their surface. Also, their planetary gravitational tugs are easier to spot, and they can teach us a lot about the new worlds.
Of course, we don’t expect AU Microscopii b to be habitable due to its size and the stars nearby. Still, astronomers have already found some key metrics in the system, which will help them to understand better how the planets form in general.
Bryson Cale, the co-author of the study, stated: “It’s surrounded by a vast debris disk in which moving clumps of dust have been tracked, and now, thanks to TESS and Spitzer, [we know] it has a planet with a direct size measurement. There is no other known system that checks all of these important boxes.”