NASA TESS Finishes First Year of Exoplanet Science Operations


TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite,
has completed its survey of the southern sky. To do this, TESS divided the southern sky
into 13 sectors, and its four cameras monitored each sector for nearly a month. TESS was watching for the slight dips in starlight
as distant planets passed in front of their host stars, but it also caught other transient
events like comets and supernovae, in addition to building a beautiful panoramic picture
of the sky. The bright band on the left is the Milky Way,
our home galaxy viewed edge-on. Zooming into the mosaic, it’s clear how
much detail and how many stars TESS has captured. At the center is the continuous viewing zone,
where the view of one TESS camera overlaps all 13 sectors. Within it is the Large Magellanic Cloud, one
of the closest galaxies to our own. A little farther out is the more distant Small
Magellanic Cloud which is flanked by a ball of stars, the bright globular cluster NGC
104. Silhouetted by the band of the Milky Way is
the Coalsack Nebula, an obscuring cloud of dust in the constellation Crux, also known
as the Southern Cross. The mosaic also contains many notable stars
such as Alpha Centauri, one of our closest neighboring systems and among the brightest
stars in the sky … Fomalhaut, which hosts one of the first directly imaged planets … Sirius,
the brightest star in the night sky … and Betelgeuse, a red super-giant star that marks
one shoulder of the constellation Orion. The Orion Nebula, a vast nursery where stars
are born, was imaged in great detail by the Hubble Space Telescope. This isn’t a cosmic object at all. It’s actually a reflection of Rigel, the
bright star marking one of Orion’s feet, and it’s caused by light scattering off
part of TESS’s camera system. TESS’s confirmed exoplanet discoveries are
currently distributed all around the southern sky. Many of these discoveries are actually multiplanet
systems, and several are Earth-size. Many more candidate exoplanets await confirmation
by ground-based telescopes. It’s easy to see which sectors were among
the first, because astronomers have had more time to study and find potential transits. Eventually, candidate and confirmed planets
will be distributed more evenly around the sky. TESS has now turned around marking the halfway
point of its primary science mission and is observing the northern sky using the same
strategy. As it does, astronomers will continue to sift
through roughly 20 terabytes of data from the southern hemisphere, as well as the new
incoming information. Eventually, hundreds or even thousands of
distant worlds will owe their discovery to TESS.

20 Comments

  1. V O said:

    All those civilizations on those planets. Just existing in this great cosmic arena!

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  2. Si Heard said:

    Can't wait for the day when a supernova is filmed in real time and we can watch it unfold before our very eyes. Fingers crossed Bettlejuice goes supernova in my lifetime.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  3. Faceroller said:

    Damn, I miss your hang outs so much Tony.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  4. OH!MY! GODDOG! said:

    This is awesome. I have a fascination with the Large Magellanic Cloud … nice to see it got some love. Appreciate the feel good documentary style video too, they are pleasant from time to time.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  5. Nikola said:

    "hundreds or even thousands"? If i remember correctly they said Tess will find up to 20 thousand planets? Was it all false marketing?

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  6. Ray's Astrophotography said:

    Tony, excellent Video! That mosaic, I am not really sure how they got the shape exactly to stitch! When I take a picture I am limited by my sensor shape!

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  7. Sammy Sam said:

    Tony, can you read me a bedtime story

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  8. Sailboat Diaries said:

    Dude this is a word-for-word ripoff of NASA Goddard's video, wtf?

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  9. ssabykoops said:

    just makes me want to watch Sagan's cosmos again

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  10. scasey1960 said:

    Congrats to the MIT team that lead this mission.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  11. Smooth Criminal said:

    Needed an hour long video.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  12. SPACETV said:

    Lots of likes and no dislikes. You know Deep Astronomy has a quality audience.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  13. aqueento said:

    Great Video! Love that voice

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  14. James Dougan said:

    g`day tony great video when you coming down south (southern hemisphere) to check it out with your own eyes ??
    cheers
    james D

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  15. Eks calybur said:

    Someday soon, the nearly unfathomable number referring to the number of stars in the sky will be surpassed by the slightly more unfathomable number of planets orbiting those stars.

    Every new bit of knowledge learned about the universe tells that it's bigger than you ever thought imaginable.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  16. Creatiff777 said:

    Awesome! Will those little dark stripes remain unexplored?

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  17. colin Paterson said:

    What a wonderful time we live in.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  18. Vimal Ramachandran said:

    Incredible! Can't wait to hear of TESS's exoplanet discoveries.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  19. joshcryer said:

    Reminder that they put this probe in an extremely stable orbit specifically for a decade or even multi decade observing plan without any necessity to do maneuvers to keep the orbit stable. It's a proper full sky survey. Kepler was test bed for this satellite (or technique, I should say) in the end. While it has a primary mission duration of ~2 years it was designed to last a lot longer than that. It's already been extended until 2022. TESS lays the groundwork for finding the planets, JWST will observe the first free oxygen or higher organic molecules in an atmosphere. This is an amazing time to be alive. We will find evidence of life in the universe.

    November 14, 2019
    Reply
  20. Patrick Mertz said:

    An excellent video as usual, love your smooth mellow voice Tony.

    November 14, 2019
    Reply

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