A NASA space observatory called TESS has, for the first time, detected a planet orbiting a star with visible starquakes.
That’s a big deal, both because it shows the capabilities of the newly active TESS planet-hunting satellite and because it allowed astronomers to precisely characterize a newfound “hot Saturn.” That exoplanet revealed itself to cameras on TESS (short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite).
“This is the first bucketful of water from the fire hose of data we’re getting from TESS,” Steve Kawaler, a professor of astronomy at Iowa State University and co-author of a paper on the new research, said in a statement. [Gallery: Our Amazing Sun]
TESS, launched in April 2018, is just beginning to show scientists what it can do. Like its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, the orbiting TESS detects planets by watching the brightness of their host stars dip as the planets pass between the stars and the telescope. Unlike Kepler, the TESS satellite focuses on a group of bright stars relatively close to Earth and spread across a wide span of the sky. (Kepler had a more limited field of view, watching stars farther away.) TESS can also detect starquakes — seismic waves that pass through stars much like earthquakes travel through Earth — by watching more-rapid changes in those same stars’ brightness.