Exoplanet TOI-700e Could Sustain Life

Image (Credit): Artist’s rendering of exoplanet TOI-700e. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Robert Hurt)

The search for another Earth continues, and a professor from Michigan State may have found a perfect candidate. Joey Rodriguez, an assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, was working with researchers involved with NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) when the discovery was made. Since being launched in 2018, the TESS spacecraft is surveying 200,000 stars looking for exoplanets that transit in front of their parent star and thereby periodically block part of the star’s light.

Back in 2020, the TESS team spotted the 100 light-year distant solar system and three exoplanets, but the latest finding includes Earth-size TOI-700e, which orbits in the habitable zone around parent star TOI-700. Its orbit is closer to that of Venus than Earth, yet still within the habitable zone.

In the Lansing State Journal article reporting the finding, Emily Gilbert, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California leading the project, stated:

This is one of only a few systems with multiple, small, habitable-zone planets that we know of,…That makes the TOI-700 system an exciting prospect for additional follow-up.

A closer look at the planet’s atmosphere will tell scientists more about the likelihood of life on the surface. Maybe this will be another candidate for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The JWST has already probed other exoplanets to learn more about their atmosphere.

You can learn more about the new exoplanet at this NASA link.