Washington: NASA’s planet-hunting space telescope Kepler has time and again come up with amazing discoveries, revealing great secrets about our solar system.
Whether it is a new planet, a number of stars – even exploding ones – or a circumbinary planet, Kepler has never failed to disappoint the curious minds of space enthusiasts.
This time, it isn’t just one, but an entire plethora of planets that Kepler has successfully verified! Yes! Kepler has been able to verify the existence of 1,284 planets in total, making this the single largest finding of planets to date!
US space agency NASA didn’t waste any time to make this spectacular announcement.
As per NASA, analysis was performed on the Kepler space telescope’s July 2015 planet candidate catalog, which identified 4,302 potential planets. For 1,284 of the candidates, the probability of being a planet is greater than 99 percent – the minimum required to earn the status of “planet.” An additional 1,327 candidates are more likely than not to be actual planets, but they do not meet the 99 percent threshold and will require additional study. The remaining 707 are more likely to be some other astrophysical phenomena. This analysis also validated 984 candidates previously verified by other techniques.
Kepler captures the discrete signals of distant planets – decreases in brightness that occur when planets pass in front of, or transit, their stars – much like the May 9 Mercury transit of our sun. Since the discovery of the first planets outside our solar system more than two decades ago, researchers have resorted to a laborious, one-by-one process of verifying suspected planets.
NASA also quoted Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, who said that, “This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler. This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth.”