Cool! Teegarden’s Star has Earth-sized planets in its habitable zone | 7/2/2019 | Paul Scott Anderson
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Artist’s concept comparing sunsets as viewed from Earth and from each of the 2 newly discovered planets orbiting Teegarden’s Star. Image via PHL @ UPR Arecibo.

Astronomers have confirmed over 4,000 exoplanets – planets orbiting other stars – so far, and among these are a growing number of Earth-sized worlds. Now, two more such planets have been found, orbiting one of the nearest stars to our own solar system, just 12.5 light-years away. These new planets – orbiting Teegarden’s Star – might also be potentially habitable, since both are in their star’s habitable zone.

Team - Astronomers - University - Göttingen - Discovery

An international team of astronomers from the University of Göttingen announced the discovery on June 18, 2019. Their peer-reviewed results were accepted in Astronomy & Astrophysics on May 14, 2019.

At 12.5 light-years away, the planets are some of the closest found so far. Astronomers have labeled them Teegarden b and c. They are now the joint fourth-nearest habitable zone exoplanets to Earth known. The Teegarden star system itself is the 24th closest to ours. According to lead author Mathias Zechmeister:

Planets - Planets - System - Earth - Zone

The two planets resemble the inner planets of our solar system. They are only slightly heavier than Earth and are located in the so-called habitable zone, where water can be present in liquid form.

The 2 planets discovered orbiting Teegarden’s Star both reside in the habitable zone, where temperatures would allow liquid water to exist. Image via University of Göttingen, Institute for Astrophysics.

Teegarden - Star - Stars - Times - Sun

Teegarden’s Star is one of the smallest stars known, some 10 times less massive than our sun. It is also much cooler, at about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,700 degrees Celsius). Because it is so relatively cool, and thus relatively dim, Teegarden’s Star wasn’t known to astronomers until 2003, despite being so close. The star is named for the discovery team leader, Bonnard J. Teegarden, an astrophysicist at NASA’s...
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