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Daily Trends Now


NASA telescope finds 10 more planets that could have life

NASA says several of the 10 new potentially habitable planets circle stars similar in size to our sun.

The findings come courtesy of NASA's pioneering Kepler space telescope, our eye in the sky when it comes to spotting potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system.

New exoplanets, some that could possibly host life, were discovered by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, researchers announced Monday at a news conference.

"Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future Nasa missions to directly image another Earth".

This is the final catalog detailing exoplanet candidates and confirmations from Kepler's survey taken during the first four years observing part of the constellation Cygnus.

The 219 new planet candidates are part of the more than 4,000 planet candidates and 2,300 confirmed planets Kepler has identified to date.




"This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy's most compelling questions - how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?" said Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist and lead author of the latest study.

The Kepler telescope detects the presence of planets by registering minuscule drops in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, a movement known as a transit.

One of those planets — KOI7711 — is the closest analog to Earth astronomers have seen in terms of size and the energy it gets from its star, which dictates temperatures. He compared the identification of these new planet classes to the discovery that mammals and lizards are separate branches on the tree of life. Of Kepler's list of more than 4000 likely candidates from those observations, 2335 have been verified as exoplanets with further analysis or other ground-based observations. K2, which has found over 100 different exoplanets so far, was started as a way to give the telescope a second life after Kepler suffered multiple mission-threatening technological setbacks. Researchers are now using the Hubble Space Telescope to determine if these planets had atmosphere.

In the search for life, Fulton believes it will be better to focus on super-Earths.

This is the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalog, gathered by reprocessing the entire set of data from Kepler's observations during the first four years of its primary mission.

For reasons scientists don't yet understand, about half of those planets take on a small amount of hydrogen and helium that dramatically swells their size, allowing them to "jump the gap" and join the population closer to Neptune's size. That planet is situated around the closest star. "It's unbelievable the things that Kepler has found, it has shown us these terrestrial worlds, and we still have all this work to do to understand how common Earths are in the galaxy". Between Kepler and other methods, scientists have now confirmed more than 3,600 exoplanets and found about 62 potentially habitable planets.

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