Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

The Sciences

Kepler's Plenty: 6 Super-Earths, And 1,200 More Exoplanet Candidates

80beatsBy Andrew MosemanFebruary 3, 2011 3:02 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

esotransitart.jpg

For months we here at DISCOVER have been waiting impatiently for the Kepler mission to open up its vault of new exoplanets, hopefully filled with a bevy of Earth-like worlds and other exotic planets. Today planet lovers got a new peek at the Kepler findings, and those findings are stunning. First, the Kepler scientists announced more than 1,200 candidate planets, which got DISCOVER blogger Phil Plait excited:

This is incredible! Even though I was expecting a number like this, actually hearing it for real is stunning. In 15 years we’ve found about 500 planets orbiting other stars, but in the almost two years since Kepler launched it may have easily tripled that number! Now, to be careful: these are candidate planets, which means they have not been confirmed. But in most cases these look pretty good, and if these numbers hold up it indicates that our galaxy is lousy with planets. They’re everywhere.

While those 1,200 are candidates, astronomers have confirmed a peculiar and fascinating set of six. From Phil Plait

:

Using NASA’s orbiting Kepler observatory, astronomers have found a complete solar system of six planets orbiting a sun-like star… and it’s really weird: five of the six planets huddle closer to their star than Mercury does to the Sun!

None of them is what I would call precisely earth-like — they’re all more massive and much hotter than Earth — but their properties are intriguing, and promise that more wonderful discoveries from Kepler are coming.

Related Content: 80beats: Astronomers Predict a Bonanza of Earth-Sized Exoplanets

80beats: How Excited Should We Be About the New “Goldilocks” Exoplanet?

80beats: Astronomers Find a Bevy of Exoplanets; Won’t Discuss Most Interesting Ones

DISCOVER: How Long Until We Find a Second Earth?

ESO/L. Calçada

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In