Citizen Scientists Discover Two Gaseous Planets around a Bright Sun-like Star

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A citizen science project has discovered two exoplanets.

Planet Hunters TESS is a NASA-funded citizen science project that looks for evidence of planets beyond our solar system, or exoplanets.

Citizen science is a way for members of the public to collaborate with scientists. More than 29,000 people worldwide have joined the Planet Hunters TESS effort to help scientists find exoplanets.

Now, Planet Hunters TESS has announced the discovery of two exoplanets in a study published online in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, listing Rubio and more than a dozen other citizen scientists as co-authors.

These exotic worlds orbit a star called HD 152843, located about 352 light-years away. This star is about the same mass as the Sun, but almost 1.5 times bigger and slightly brighter.

Planet b, about the size of Neptune, is about 3.4 times bigger than Earth, and completes an orbit around its star in about 12 days.

Planet c, the outer planet, is about 5.8 times bigger than Earth, making it a "sub-Saturn," and its orbital period is somewhere between 19 and 35 days.

In our own solar system, both of these planets would be well within the orbit of Mercury, which is about 88 days.

"Studying them together, both of them at the same time, is really interesting to constrain theories of how planets both form and evolve over time," said Nora Eisner, a doctoral student in astrophysics at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study.

In this artist's rendering, two gaseous planets orbit the bright star HD 152843.

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