Published: Mon, February 19, 2018
Sci-tech | By Lila Blake

Kepler astronomers discover a treasure trove of 95 new exoplanets

Kepler astronomers discover a treasure trove of 95 new exoplanets

Exoplanet is a field of astronomy since 1995 when a planet which was outside our solar system was discovered by 2 astronomers: Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz.

The new study was published today (Feb. 15) in The Astronomical Journal.

A candidate exoplanet is measured by the shadow it causes as it crosses its host star. For four years, the spacecraft stared continuously at about 150,000 stars, looking for tiny dips in their brightness caused by the passage of planets across their faces. "Be that as it may, we additionally identified planets that range from sub-Earth-sized to the span of Jupiter and bigger".

"We validated a planet on a 10 day orbit around a star called HD 212657, which is now the brightest star found by either the Kepler or K2 missions to host a validated planet. In turn, 95 of these planets have proved to be new discoveries", said Andrew Mayo from National Space Institute (DTU Space) at the Technical University of Denmark.

A team of scientists working on Kepler K2 data analyze 275 candidate exoplanets out of which 149 were validated as real exoplanets. After waiting for few time, the Kepler spacecraft shined once again and that is when it was named as K2 Mission. For a while, it looked like game over for Kepler, but it was decided in November 2013 that a new mission plan (K2) would keep up the search for exoplanets, but with a much larger area in the plane of Earth's orbit around the sun. This planet was orbiting around its own star, just like the Earth does with the Sun. But a fix was affected in 2014, and the second phase of its planet-hunting mission, which is still ongoing, was called K2.

"Planets around brilliant stars are vital in light of the fact that space experts can take in a considerable measure about them from ground-based observatories".

These dips are often indicative of an exoplanet transit, which is then examined closely before getting declared as one.

Mr Mayo said: "Exoplanets are a very exciting field of space science".

The latest study follows news in December that the Kepler probe had found an eighth planet in a distant star system called Kepler 90. Since K2's first data release in 2014, researchers have been combing through the light signals to separate the fluctuations caused by exoplanets from those caused by other sources.

The star system sits roughly 2,545 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco, and of the new planets found, Kepler 90i is the 'smallest of the bunch'.

The brighter the host star, the more we can determine about the planet that orbits it - perhaps even more so when the next generation of much higher resolution space telescopes is launched.

Before the latest AI-guided results, 'Kepler 90 was tied with Trappist-1, with 7 planets each, ' says Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

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