Universe  ID: 13648

TESS, Spitzer Missions Discover a Unique Young World

For more than a decade, astronomers have searched for planets orbiting AU Microscopii, a nearby star still surrounded by a disk of debris left over from its formation. Now scientists using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and retired Spitzer Space Telescope report the discovery of a planet about as large as Neptune that circles the young star in just over a week.

The system, known as AU Mic for short, provides a one-of-kind laboratory for studying how planets and their atmospheres form, evolve and interact with their stars.

AU Mic is a M-type red dwarf star at least 150 times younger than our Sun. It’s so young that a vast disk of dust and icy grains still surrounds it.

The planet, AU Mic b, orbits very close to its star within a central zone where the disk material is cleared away. It's around 8% larger than Neptune, with no more than about 3.4 times its mass.

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Chris Smith (USRA): Lead Producer
Chris Smith (USRA): Lead Animator
Francis Reddy (University of Maryland College Park): Science Writer
Tom Barclay (UMBC): Scientist
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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SVS >> Exoplanet
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SVS >> Spitzer