WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 — U.S. space agenecy NASA said Wednesday its Kepler spacecraft has verified the existence of 715 more planets orbiting stars outside the solar system.
The latest discovery brings the confirmed count of planets beyond the solar system to nearly 1,700, Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center told a press teleconference.
These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, meaning many are in “multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system,” NASA said.
Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth, it said.
Four of these new planets are less than 2.5 times the size of Earth and orbit in their sun’s habitable zone, where water can exist in liquid form, it said.
NASA said the verification of the existence of a planet is “a laborious planet-by-planet process” in the past but the team has a new powerful statistical technique that can be applied to many planets at once.
The team used the technique called verification by multiplicity to analyze stars with more than one potential planet, all of which were detected in the first two years of Kepler’s observations, May 2009 to March 2011, and identified the 715 new planets.
Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to find potentially habitable Earth-size planets. Discoveries include more than 3,600 planet candidates, of which 961 have been verified as bonafide worlds.
Read the NASA article on this link: NASA’s Kepler Mission Announces a Planet Bonanza, 715 New Worlds