Dr. Jason Rowe, Associate professor, Research Scientist Dr. Kelsey Hoffman and Undergraduate researcher Danielle Dineen of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Bishop’s University, played a key role in the recent discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the habitable-zone of a nearby star. The international team of researchers led by a NASA fellow used data obtained from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to identify 3 exoplanets orbiting a nearby cool star. One of these planets, now called TOI 700 d, has been characterised as a habitable-zone Earth-sized planet. The discovery was highlighted by NASA at the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Honolulu.
Dr. Rowe and the Bishop’s team performed what is known as “photodynamical” analysis for the paper released today in Astrophysics Journal. Photodynamics models gravitational interactions and photometric planet transtis to measure simultaneously both the mass and radius of a planet to constraint the bulk density of the planet. Although the energy received by the planet is important, the planet bulk density gives insights into the composition of the planet, a key component in determining if it is habitable. The research performed at Bishop’s University is fundamental towards understanding if these new planets are rocky and remind us of the Earth or gaseous and more like the planet Neptune.
Dr. Rowe’s research is supported by a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Extrasolar Planet Astrophysics and more information about his research is available online. Congratulations on this discovery Dr. Rowe, Bishop’s University is proud of your achievements!