LONDON: Nasa’s Kepler mission has found 715 new planets in what is the largest number of planets discovered in a single go.
Nearly 95% of them are smaller than Neptune which is almost four times the size of Earth.
These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.
This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets which are planets outside our solar system. It also brings the confirmed count of planets outside our solar system to nearly 1,700.
Four of these new planets are nearly 2.5 times the size of Earth and orbit in their sun’s habitable zone defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of a planet may be suitable for life.
Scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory presLaunched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to find potentially habitable Earth-size planets. Discoveries include more than 3,600 planet candidates of which 961 have been verified as bona-fide worlds.
“The Kepler team continues to amaze and excite us with their planet hunting results,” said John Grunsfeld from Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate.
“That these new planets and solar systems look somewhat like our own portends a great future when we have the James Webb Space Telescope in space to characterize the new worlds,” he added.
To verify this bounty of planets a research team co-led by Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist at Nasa analyzed stars with more than one potential planet all of which were detected in the first two years of Kepler’s observations – May 2009 to March 2011.
The research team used a technique called verification by multiplicity which relies in part on the logic of probability.
-Agencies (Extracted from FMT)