NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found over 5000 candidate exoplanet candidates, and 197 confirmed exoplanets since its mission began in late 2018. TESS is good at finding exoplanets, but the spacecraft is a powerful scientific platform, and it’s made other discoveries, too. Scientists working with TESS recently announced 97 quadruple star candidates, nearly doubling the number of known quadruple systems.

TESS’s mission is to find exoplanets. More specifically, its mission is to find exoplanets around nearby bright stars. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite can also study those planets’ mass, density, size, and orbit.

But TESS’s field of view is wide, much wider than its predecessor, the Kepler Space Telescope. Its array of wide-field cameras has surveyed 85% of the sky and gathered an enormous quantity of data. Scientists use machine learning and a cohort of eager citizen scientists to comb through that data.

According to a new paper, the latest results from TESS data is a catalogue of 97 “…uniformly-vetted candidates for quadruple star systems,” according to a new paper. The paper is “97 Eclipsing Quadruple Star Candidates Discovered in TESS Full Frame Images.” The paper is available at the pre-press site arxiv.org and will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement. The paper’s lead author is Veselin Kostov from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“The candidates were identified in TESS Full Frame Image data from Sectors 1 through 42 through a combination of machine learning techniques and visual examination, with major contributions from a dedicated group of citizen scientists,” the authors write.

TESS is equipped with four CCD cameras that have adjacent field-of-views to produce a 4 x 1 array, or 'observing sector', yielding a combined field-of-view of 96x 24 degrees, as illustrated above. Image Credit:  NASA
TESS is equipped with four CCD cameras with adjacent field-of-views to produce a 4 x 1 array, or ‘observing sector,’ yielding a combined field-of-view of 96x 24 degrees, as illustrated above. Image Credit: NASA

To find these systems, it took a collaboration between some of the usual suspects—the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Astrophysics Science Division and the MIT Kavli Institute. But the professionals at those research institutions needed some help. That help came from seven experienced citizen scientists who assisted in the painstaking effort of pixel-by-pixel analysis of light curves. “To rule out false positives due to nearby field stars or systematic effects, we evaluate the pixel-by-pixel light curve of the target…” the authors write in their paper.

This is an artist's illustration of HD 98800, a quadruple star system located in the TW Hydrae association. It's not part of the new catalogue and was discovered previously. Image Credit: By NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC) - http://gallery.spitzer.caltech.edu/Imagegallery/image.php?image_name=sig07-013, http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/spitzer/news/spitzer-20070724.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3689220
This is an artist’s illustration of HD 98800, a quadruple star system located in the TW Hydrae association. It’s not part of the new catalogue and was discovered previously. Image Credit: By NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC) – http://gallery.spitzer.caltech.edu/Imagegallery/image.php
Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.mansbrand.com/planet-found-in-the-habitable-zone-of-a-white-dwarf/

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