The planet, known as TOI-561b, orbits the TOI-561 star system, according to a study published in The Astronomical Journal.
The planet is about 50% larger than the Earth, but it takes half the time to orbit its star due to the close proximity between them.
The study’s lead author, Lauren Weiss, said in a statement: “The rocky planet orbiting TOI-561 is one of the oldest rocky planets discovered so far. Its existence indicates that the universe has formed nearly rocky planets since its inception 14 billion years ago.
Due to its proximity to TOI-561, which was discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Investigation Satellite (TESS), its average surface temperature is estimated to be more than 2,000 degrees Kelvin. It is too hot to host life now but it may have happened in the past.
The super-Earth has also surprised scientists who believe it has a density comparable to that of Earth, despite being billions of years older.
“This is surprising because you would expect the density to be higher,” astrophysicist at the University of California, Riverside and study co-author Stephen Kane said in a separate statement. This is consistent with the idea that the planet is very old.
TOI-561b’s low density indicates that it contains relatively few heavy elements, so it is very old, and formed perhaps 10 billion years or so ago, according to Weiss, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hawaii.
The scientists explained that TOI-561, which has at least two other planets orbiting around it, is part of a group of stars known as the “thick galactic disk”, which differs chemically but does not contain heavy elements, such as iron or magnesium.
In May, a super-Earth planet, described as “one in a million” because it has a size and orbit similar to Earth, was discovered in deep space, and in June, a team of German astronomers discovered two super-terrestrial planets 11 light-years from Earth.
And a study published last October identified 24 potentially “habitable” planets whose conditions may be more suitable for hosting life.
Separately, in October, scientists discovered two planets, one of them a “super-Earth,” orbiting a red dwarf about 120 light-years from Earth.
In total, NASA has discovered more than 4,500 exoplanets, about 50 of which are believed to be potentially habitable as of September 2018. It has the right size and the correct orbit of its star to support surface water, and at least in theory, support life.
Source: Russia Today