The TESS Space Telescope has completed its main science program, scanning about 75 per cent of the celestial sphere. In two years, the telescope managed to find 2.1 thousand candidates for exoplanets, of which 66 were confirmed, as well as to make a number of discoveries in the field of astrophysics, according to the NASA website.
The main task of the TESS observatory is to search for exoplanets by the method of transit photometry near bright stars located at a distance of up to three hundred light-years from Earth. The telescope records small periodic changes in the brightness of stars, which are caused by the passage of planets across their discs. To track such events, TESS is equipped with four telescopes with sixteen 16.8 megapixel CCDs. Each of the telescopes has a field of view of 24 by 24 degrees, which gives a total field of view in the form of a long strip of sky. The observatory changes the area of observation every 27 days.
The first image was sent by TESS in May 2018 but started work only at the end of July, and already in mid-September 2019 it became known about the first exoplanet he discovered. In July 2019, TESS completed a survey of the southern hemisphere of the celestial sphere, generating a wealth of scientific evidence. By September last year, the telescope had found more than a thousand exoplanet candidates and even discovered three exo-comets, six types Ia supernovae, and recorded an outburst from a black hole destroying a star.
On July 4, 2020, TESS completed its main science program by scanning about 75 per cent of the celestial sphere. The observatory has 2,100 discovered exoplanet candidates and 66 confirmed exoplanets. Among the latest discoveries made by TESS, one can note the outburst of comet 46P / Virtanen, patterns in the pulsations of stars, as well as a Neptune-like exoplanet in the system of the star AU Microscope close to the Sun and an earth-like exoplanet TOI-700d, located in the habitable zone of a red dwarf.
TESS is currently working under an expanded scientific program that will last until September 2022. The observatory observes the southern sky, measuring the brightness of thousands of stars every twenty seconds, which will allow studying the bursts of activity of the stars and their pulsations. TESS will then switch to the exploration of the northern hemisphere of the sky and regions near the ecliptic.
At present, another "hunter for exoplanets" is working in space - the CHEOPS telescope, designed for their detailed study. He has already demonstrated to scientists that the accuracy of his data is five times higher than in the case of ground-based observations.