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A rare planet has been found completely covered by the ocean

Scientists recently discovered TOI-733b, a rare exoplanet nearly twice the size of Earth that appears to be covered by an ocean.

It lies 245 light-years away and was determined using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

TOI-733b orbits a star slightly smaller than our sun, with a period of 4.9 days, and its unique features could hold vital information about the formation of planets in the universe.

Illustrative: Mysteries of the World

The researchers are particularly intrigued by the planet’s size. There is a notable gap in the number of exoplanets that lies between super-Earth class (up to Earth’s radius) and Neptune’s small (more than Earth’s radius), which has been called the “Lightning Valley”.

NASA hypothesizes that these planets could be the cores of Neptune-like worlds. Some exoplanets may lose their atmospheres due to the proximity of the stars, and turn into smaller cores on Earth on the lower side of the valley of the radius, or “rocky planets”. Alternatively, this phenomenon could be caused by internal processes driven by the heat of an exoplanet’s core.

TOI-733b, which lies within the Lightning Valley, is essential to understanding this mystery. The research, which was led by Iskra Georgieva of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, has been accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics and is also available on a pre-publication server. arXiv.

A rare planet has been found completely covered by the ocean

Illustrative: Mysteries of the World

Density measurements indicate that TOI-733b may have lost its atmosphere or may have been completely covered by water. Some data points indicate that the planet’s atmosphere is slowly depleting, possibly due to heat from the star it orbits. If this is true, TOI-733b could eventually become a rocky planet. Alternatively, the planet may have lost hydrogen and helium, retaining an atmosphere of water vapor or heavier elements.

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The researchers stress that determining whether TOI-733b has a secondary atmosphere or an oceanic planet is essential to advance our understanding of exoplanets. The discovery of TOI-733b is significant in the field of astronomy, as it could be a small but vital piece of the puzzle in exoplanet science.

The paper concludes optimistically, noting that with the increasing complexity of theoretical analyzes and the possibility of high-resolution follow-up studies using current and future facilities, we are well on our way to answering important questions regarding planetary formation and evolution.