NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched successfully on 18th April 2018 and, after a complex choreography of orbital manoeuvres over the next few weeks, will reach its operational orbit in the middle of June. TESS will search for transiting planets and is predicted to discover 4500 planets around bright stars, including around 50 Earth-sized planets, during its two-year primary mission.
The Twinkle team is eagerly awaiting these discoveries. Because the majority of exoplanets found by TESS will be orbiting very bright stars, they will be good targets for follow-up observations by Twinkle. Our analysis of Twinkle’s capabilities shows that around 500 known exoplanets lie within the patch of sky at which Twinkle can be pointed (Twinkle’s field of regard). The latest predictions suggest TESS will find a further 1600 planets that will be observable with Twinkle.
Known exoplanets (left) and predicted discoveries of exoplanets by TESS (right) within Twinkle’s Field of Regard (shown in grey).
We have been simulating the performance of Twinkle when observing these planets using spectral characteristics of some well-known exoplanets. We will be submitting a paper on the results to Experimental Astronomy in the next few weeks.
As we said in our blog last month on ARIEL, we are entering a ‘Golden Age’ of exoplanet research. We look forward to the treasure-haul of new targets that TESS will deliver.