An artist's rendering of a distant super-Earth. Shutterstock.

Astronomers have discovered a new “Super-Earth”

TOI-1680 b is found to have a radius of 1.46 Earth radii and a predicted mass of around 3.18 Earth masses.


Astronomers have discovered a new “Super-Earth”

International astronomers have reported the discovery of a new “super-Earth” exoplanet, named TOI-1680 b, using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). This alien world, approximately 50% larger than Earth, orbits an M-dwarf star roughly 120 light-years away. The details of this discovery were outlined in a paper released on the preprint server arXiv on July 11.

TESS has embarked on a mission to survey around 200,000 of the sun’s brightest neighboring stars, hunting for transiting exoplanets. To date, this ambitious project has identified nearly 6,700 candidate exoplanets (TESS Objects of Interest or TOIs), with 363 confirmed thus far.

Super-Earths are a unique category of planets that differ from those found in our solar system. These planets are more massive than Earth but lighter than ice giants such as Neptune and Uranus. They can consist of a combination of gas and rock or be entirely composed of either element. Super-Earths have sizes ranging from twice that of Earth to up to ten times its mass.

TOI-1680 b: A New Addition to the Astronomical Index

A recent study led by Mourad Ghachoui from the University of Liège, Belgium, verified yet another TOI monitored by TESS. Ghachoui and his team announced that a transit signal was detected in the light curve of an inactive M dwarf, known as TOI-1680. Ground-based photometry, high-resolution imaging, and spectroscopic observations confirmed the planetary nature of this signal.


TOI-1680 b: The Newly Discovered Super-Earth

“We have reported the discovery and initial characterization of TOI-1680 b, a super-Earth orbiting a faint mid-M dwarf (V=15.87),” the researchers highlighted in the paper.

TOI-1680 b is found to have a radius of 1.46 Earth radii and a predicted mass of around 3.18 Earth masses, yielding a mean density of 5.5 g/cm3. With an orbital period of 4.8 days, the planet circles its host star from a distance of about 0.03 AU. An estimated equilibrium temperature of 404 K has been assigned to TOI-1680 b.

Profiling the Parent Star

The parent star, TOI-1680 (also known as TIC 259168516), is a faint and inactive M4.5 spectral-type star. It is roughly five times smaller and less massive than our sun. The distance to TOI-1680 was measured to be 121 light-years, with an effective temperature approximated to be around 3,211 K.

A Potential Candidate for Atmospheric Studies

A transmission spectroscopic metric (TSM) of 7.82 for TOI-1680 b suggests that the exoplanet could be a promising candidate for atmospheric characterization studies. The researchers suggest using the NIRSpec/PRISM instrument aboard the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) for this purpose.


The team further recommends radial velocity measurements of TOI-1680 b using the MAROON-X high-resolution, optical, fiber-fed echelle spectrograph at the 8.1-m Gemini North telescope. Such investigations would facilitate a direct mass measurement, a critical step towards understanding the composition of this fascinating new planet.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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