A new study published in Astronomical Journal reveals discovery of almost 100 new exoplanets based on Kepler spacecraft data.
A team of scientists working on Kepler K2 data analyze 275 candidate exoplanets out of which 149 were validated as real exoplanets. Out of these 145, 95 turned out to be completely new discoveries.
Kepler and its data have been instrumental in broadening our horizons as far as new planet discoveries go and ever since its launch in 2009, the spacecraft has been busy scanning and imaging the sky. Four years after launch in 2013, Kepler was hit was a mechanical snag that crippled the telescope. However, astronomers and engineers devised a way to repurpose and save the space telescope by changing its field of view periodically. This solution paved the way for the follow up K2 mission, which is still ongoing as the spacecraft searches for exoplanet transits.
Scientists explain that the planet transits can be found by registering dips in light caused by the shadow of an exoplanet as it crosses in front of its host star. These dips are indications of exoplanets which must then be examined much closer in order to validate the candidates that are actually exoplanets.
As of today as many as 3,600 exoplanets have been found, ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter.
It’s difficult work to distinguish which signals are actually coming from exoplanets. Scientists behind the latest discovery analyzed hundreds of signals of potential exoplanets thoroughly to determine which signals were created by exoplanets and which were caused by other sources.
With new, upcoming space missions like the James Webb Space Telescope and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, astronomers will take exciting new steps toward characterizing and studying exoplanets like the rocky, habitable, Earth-sized planets that might be capable of supporting life.