Scientists confirm existence of 100 new planets beyond our solar system
Scientists confirm existence of 100 new planets beyond our solar system
Kepler's field of view spans different parts of our galaxy
18 February, 2018, 06:37
Cosmologists poring through information accumulated amid Kepler's present broadened mission, known as K2, have spotted 95 more outsider planets, another investigation reports.
Of the 275 candidates, 149 were deemed to be actual exoplanets, of which 95 were new discoveries.
"This is more than twice as large as any other single haul of exoplanets found as part of the K2 mission", Andrew Mayo from the National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark, told IBTimes UK.
The work was published in the Astronomical Journal and researchers from Nasa, UC Berkeley and the University of Tokyo were involved in the study. "As more planets are discovered, astronomers will develop a much better picture of the nature of exoplanets which in turn will allow us to place our own solar system into a galactic context".
Just like the planets in the solar system range in size from the tiny Mercury (18 of it could fit inside Earth) to the very big Jupiter (about 1,300 Earths could fit inside it), exoplanets come in a variety of sizes and masses too - some smaller than the moon and others a few times larger than Jupiter. NASA launched Kepler in 2009 and rechristened it "K2" in 2013 after a mechanical failure changed the nature of its operation.
Exoplanet explorers want to find other Earth-sized planets that may be capable of supporting life. It's much easier to wait a few days for the brightness dip to happen again, then wait months or years for that same planet to pass in front of its host star. But since the dips in light can have other causes too, all such candidates identified by Kepler need to be tested using other means to validate whether they are in fact exoplanets or something else.
Since the first planet orbiting a star similar to the solar system's sun was detected in 1995, more than 3,300 exoplanets - ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter - have been found.
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For a long time, the rocket gazed consistently at around 150,000 stars, searching for little dunks in their shine caused by the entry of planets over their countenances.
'We validated a planet on a 10 day orbit around a star called HD 212657, which is now the brightest star found by either the Kepler or K2 missions to host a validated planet. The discovery was deemed significant because the bright star enables the planets to be observed from "ground-based observatories".
"Exoplanets are a very exciting field of space science", said Mayo, who started the research when he was a senior at Harvard College.
"The follow up K2 mission, on the other hand, has provided us with a great deal of interesting individual planets and systems that we can now start to study in greater detail".
The data used for Mayo's team's analysis was collected in 2014. Most star systems involve blazingly hot and massive gas giants that sit uncomfortably close to their host stars, or binary star systems in which complex gravitational effects make it hard for planets to form.
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