100 new planets discovered beyond our solar system

Exoplanets

If you're keeping count at home (which you shouldn't be, because there is a website for that), the current count for confirmed exoplanets is now up to 3,605, thanks to a team of scientists who just confirmed almost 100 new candidates using data from NASA's K2 mission. This huge discovery brings the total number of exoplanets discovered on this mission close to 300.

Of the 275 candidates in the dataset - being compiled since the first K2 data release in 2014 - 149 were verified to be actual exoplanets, and of those, researchers found 54 had already been discovered earlier, leaving them with 95 previously unknown exoplanets.

The scientists analyzed several hundred signals to determine which signals were created by exoplanets and which were caused by other sources. "As more planets are discovered, astronomers will develop a much better picture of the nature of exoplanets which in turn will allow us to place our own solar system into a galactic context". These planets have different sizes right from giant gaseous planets like Jupiter to rigid and rocky Earth or Sub-Earth sized planets that orbit around their host star.

The original Kepler spacecraft was launched in 2009 to hunt for exoplanets in a single area of the sky, but it dealt with technical issues which left the telescope out of commission. The scientists, however, discovered a new way to utilise it by changing its field of view periodically.

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But a mechanical failure crippled the telescope in 2013, paving the way for a follow-up K2 mission that's proving much more successful. This doesn't necessarily mean the other candidates are definitely not exoplanets, just that more evidence is needed to confirm.

Exoplanet explorers want to find other Earth-sized planets that may be capable of supporting life.

The first planet orbiting a star similar to our own sun was detected only in 1995.

One of the planets detected was orbiting a very bright star. One world of particular interest among the latest batch was found to orbit the brightest star to host a planet ever found using Kepler.

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As scientists attempt to gain a better understanding of the solar system and search for those existing beyond our own, they have often made incredible discoveries, especially those in the form of numerous exoplanets that mimic the ones in our own solar system. The discovery was deemed significant because the bright star enables the planets to be observed from "ground-based observatories".

"Exoplanets are a very exciting field of space science", said Mayo. It also only works if the planet orbits between the observer (us, or rather the Kepler telescope) and its star.

Much like an AI can learn to spot the difference between cats and dogs, it can spot the difference between patterns associated with planets, and other types of patterns in the cosmos that could be false positives.

Astronomers may be able to even glean information about its atmosphere, as they have done for TRAPPIST-1 planets.

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