COVERAGE OF THE “KEPLER PLANET BONANZA” ANNOUNCEMENT
By the Scientific Journal Nature (News & Comment 26 February 2014)
With images from NASA’sDigital press kit - Kepler Planet Bonanza
The new roster of planets, inferred from data collected by Kepler in 2009 and 2011, suggests that multiple-planet systems are relatively common among the roughly 150,000 stars that the craft continuously monitored.
The latest finds include four planets in the habitable zone of their stars — the region that could be just the right temperature for water to be liquid — but all four orbs are about twice as large as Earth, says Rowe.
The 715 planets are distributed among 305 multiplanetary systems that feature nearly-circular orbits such as those of the Solar System’s terrestrial planets, but are much more compact. Although many of the exoplanets are larger than Earth, these planetary systems “are scaled-down versions of our inner Solar System, giving us the chance to look at the Kepler data set and see hints of ourselves — systems that remind us of home”.
Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.
TOP IMAGE Kepler spacecraft / NASA
MIDDLE The histogram shows the number of planet discoveries by year for roughly the past two decades of the exoplanet search.
- The blue bar shows previous planet discoveries,
- the red bar shows previous Kepler planet discoveries,
- the gold bar displays the 715 new planets verified by multiplicity.
Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI/J Rowe (Digital press kit)
BOTTOM The histogram shows the number of planets by size for all known exoplanets.
- The blue bars on the histogram represents all the exoplanets known, by size, before the Kepler Planet Bonanza announcement on Feb. 26, 2014.
- The gold bars on the histogram represent Kepler’s newly-verified planets.
Image Credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel (Digital press kit)