The Kepler telescope has identified 1,284 new planets.
It’s an absolutely incredible new discovery: NASA’s exoplanet-hunting spacecraft Kepler has found 1,284 new planets out there.
Just a couple months after it had gone missing sending scientists into a panic, Kepler has now made its biggest discovery yet, unveiling the largest amount of planets yet discovered in the Milky Way Galaxy, according to a NASA news release.
The finding doubles the number of planets we’ve discovered through Kepler, and even more excitingly, some of these planets may be in the “habitable zone” like our planet, meaning it is not too far from its sun nor is it too close, making life possible.
The discovery was made during the 2015 Kepler campaign, and the 1,284 confirmed planets are out of 4,000 potential planets.
“This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth.”
The statement notes that “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.”
“Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy. Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars,” added Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters. “This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever-closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe.”