NASA Kepler Mission Discovers 1,284 New Extra Solar Planets With a Kepler Telescope, these planet found are Earth-sized planets.
NASA Kepler Mission Discovers 1,284 New Extra-Solar Planets, On the 10th of May, 2016 Kepler Mission Announces Largest Planet Collection Ever Discovered as Kepler telescope finds its largest-ever batch of planets, Kepler telescope discovers over 100 Earth-sized planets.
With the aid of the Kepler Telescope which was named after the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler and was launched on 7 March 2009, The NASA Kepler mission which was dubbed K2 now lead to the discovery of 1,284 New Extra-solar Planets.
NASA announced the largest extra-solar planet find ever by verifying that 1,284 planetary candidates observed by the Kepler space telescope were actually planets. The Kepler space telescope finds planets by their transits—that is, by observing the dimming of their star’s light that occurs when they pass in front of the star. However, other objects that are not planets can cause this dimming, such as brown dwarfsor double stars. Verifying that a dimming is actually caused by a planet requires follow-up observations from telescopeson Earth of an individual candidate.
However, Kepler has found 4,302 candidates, so follow-up observations would be extremely time-consuming. Astronomer Timothy Morton of Princeton University and his collaborators have devised a method whereby they compare the dimming observed by Kepler with that expected from other objects and calculate the probability of a false positive. When that probability is less than 1 percent, that object is most likely a planet.
When this was done for the 4,302 candidates, 1,284 were found to be planets. Another 1,327 are likely to be planets but do not have a false-positive probability less than 1 percent. Of the remainder, 707 were likely something like a brown dwarf or a double star, and 984 had been previously verified but were confirmed by the new analysis.
Of the 3,264 extra-solar planets known, Kepler has found 2,326. About 550 of these new planets are rocky planets like Earth, and nine of these can be found in their stars’ habitable zone, the distance from a star where liquid water can survive on a planet’s surface. If these planets do indeed have liquid water, they would be likely places for possible extraterrestrial life to flourish.
Nasa’s Kepler telescope has discovered more than 100 Earth-sized planets orbiting alien stars.
It has also detected nine small planets within so-called habitable zones, where conditions are favourable for liquid water – and potentially life.
The finds are contained within a catalogue of 1,284 new planets detected by Kepler – which more than doubles the previous tally.
Nasa said it was the biggest single announcement of new exo-planets.
Space agency scientists discussed the new findings in a teleconference on Tuesday.
Statistical analyses of Kepler’s expanding sample of worlds help astronomers understand how common planets like our own might be.
Dr Natalie Batalha, Kepler mission scientist at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in California, said calculations suggested there could be more than 10 billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way.
“About 24% of the stars harbour potentially habitable planets that are smaller than about 1.6 times the size of the Earth. That’s a number that we like because it’s below that size that we estimate planets are likely to be rocky,” said Dr Batalha.
“If you ask yourself where is the next habitable planet likely to be, it’s within about 11 light-years, which is very close.”
Future observatories such as theJames Webb Space Telescopecould examine starlight filtered through the atmospheres of exoplanets for potential markers of biology.
“The ultimate goal of our search is to detect the light from a habitable exoplanet and analyse that light for gases like water vapour, oxygen, methane and carbon dioxide – gases that might indicate the presence of a biological ecosystem,” said Paul Hertz, director of astrophysics at Nasa.
Of the telescope’s finds to date, the planetsKepler-186fandKepler-452bare arguably the most Earth-like in terms of properties such as their size, the temperature of their host star and the energy received from their star.
Dr Batalha said the new finds Kepler 1638b and Kepler-1229b were intriguing targets in the search for habitable planets.
The Nasa Ames researcher said the Kepler mission was part of a “larger strategic goal of finding evidence of life beyond Earth: knowing whether we’re alone or not, to know… how life manifests itself in the galaxy and what is the diversity”.
She added: “Being able to look up to a point of light and being able to say: ‘That star has a living world orbiting it.’ I think that’s very profound and answers questions about why we’re here.”
Dr Timothy Morton, from Princeton University in New Jersey, said the overwhelming majority of exoplanets found by Kepler fell into the super-Earth (1.2-1.9 times bigger than the radius of Earth) and sub-Neptune sized (1.9-3.1 times bigger than Earth’s radius).
He noted that planets in this size range had no known analogues in our Solar System.
Scientists used a new statistical technique to validate the 1,284 new exoplanets from a pool of 4,302 targets from Kepler’s July 2015 catalogue of planet candidates. The technique folded in different types of information about the candidates from simulations, giving the astronomers a reliability score for each potential new world.
Candidates with a reliability greater than 99% were designated as “validated planets”.
The team identified a further 1,327 candidates that are more likely than not to be planets, but do not meet the 99% threshold and will require further study.
Kepler employs the transit method to detect planets orbiting other stars. This involves measuring the slight dimming of a star’s light when an orbiting planet passes between it and the Earth.
The same orbital phenomenon was involved whenMercury passed across the face of the Sunon Monday.
The Kepler telescope, named after the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, was launched on 7 March 2009.
In May 2013, the second of four reaction wheels – used to control a spacecraft’s orientation – failed on Kepler. This robbed the orbiting observatory of its ability to stay pointed at a target without drifting off course.
However, engineers came up with an innovative solution: using the pressure of sunlight to stabilise the spacecraft, allowing it to continue its planet hunt. The resulting mission was dubbed K2 Mission.
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