1,284 more planets discovered beyond solar system

May 11, 2016 at 3:29 pm

CAPE CANAVERAL: Astronomers have discovered 1,284 more planets beyond our solar system, with nine possibly in orbits suitable for surface water that could bolster the prospects of supporting life, scientists said on Tuesday.

The announcement brings the total number of confirmed planets outside the solar system to 3,264. Called exoplanets, the bulk were detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which searched for habitable planets like Earth.

The new planets were identified during Kepler’s four-year primary mission, which ended in 2013, and previously had been considered planet-candidates.

Scientists announcing the largest single finding of planets to date used a new analysis technique that applied statistical models to confirm the batch as planets, while ruling out scenarios that could falsely appear to be orbiting planets.

“We now know there could be more planets than stars,” Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director, said in a news release. “This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe.”

Of the new planets, nearly 550 could be rocky like Earth, NASA said. Nine planets are the right distance from a star to support temperatures at which water could pool. The discovery brings to 21 the total number of known planets with such conditions, which could permit life.

Kepler looked for slight changes in the amount of light coming from about 150,000 target stars. Some of the changes were caused by orbiting planets passing across, or transiting, the face of their host stars, relative to Kepler’s line of sight.

The phenomenon is identical to Monday’s transit of Mercury across the sun, as seen from Earth’s perspective.

The analysis technique, developed by Princeton University astronomer Tim Morton and colleagues, analyzed which changes in the amount of light are due to planets transiting and which are due to stars or other objects.

The team verified, with a more than 99 percent accuracy, that 1,284 candidates were indeed orbiting planets, Morton said.

The results suggest that more than 10 billion potentially habitable planets could exist throughout the galaxy, said Kepler lead scientist Natalie Batalha, with NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The nearest potentially habitable planet is about 11 light years from Earth.

“Astronomically speaking, that’s a very close neighbor,” she said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent News

NSC to discuss misleading stat
Three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been in the limelight for months, but for all the wrong reasons. On Sunday, he was once again making the headlines, and this time for stirring a new c...
May 13, 2018 Read More
Imran Khan not our blue-eyed b
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Sunday shot down the claims of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif that PTI chairman Imran Khan is being meted out special treatment by the apex...
May 13, 2018 Read More
Nawaz’s remarks back Mod
KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman on Sunday slammed Nawaz Sharif for his recent remarks on the Mumbai attacks and said his statement backed Indian prime minister Modi's stance...
May 13, 2018 Read More
Indian govt biggest obstacle i
Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday stressed that the uncooperative attitude and stubbornness of the Indian government has been the biggest obstacle in the Mumbai terror attacks...
May 13, 2018 Read More
NSA stresses overcoming Pakist
National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua on Sunday said Pakistan desires world peace and has always contributed to global stability but faces a perception problem in international me...
May 13, 2018 Read More
PM, defence minister slam NAB
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday lashed out at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for launching a probe against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif over alleged laundering of $4....
May 10, 2018 Read More
Imran promises new province as
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) lawmakers from South Punjab, who recently parted ways with the ruling party, joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday. The announce...
May 10, 2018 Read More
SC extends deadline to conclud
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday granted a one month extension to the Accountability Court (AC) of Islamabad to conclude references against former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his fa...
May 10, 2018 Read More